First Person

03/13/2012 | | First Person

As I sit here in Tokyo reflecting on the first anniversary of the tsunami (it hit last March 11), I recall my surprise the first time a Japanese person thanked me, as a Jew, for Israel’s immediate response to the disaster. It was certainly not the time to instruct that well-meaning person that not all Jews are from Israel — the average Japanese does not make a distinction between them — so instead I proudly basked in the thought of Israel being the first country to come to Japan’s aid with its emergency field hospital.

02/15/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

Adrienne Cooper was scheduled to perform “Ghetto Tango,” a cabaret piece, with my father towards the end of January. Due to her illness, the singer, who played a leading role in the Yiddish revival, withdrew three months before the performance, and the decision had to be made whether to cancel the show or continue with different singers. Adrienne and my father decided to proceed. I was asked to participate and did so with a heavy heart.

01/24/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

About a month ago, I ran into my son’s former kindergarten teacher in the streets of Jerusalem, where we live. “Pinchas misses you,” I told Rebbe Shlomo. He really does. Rebbe Shlomo taught Pinchas to make about seven different kinds of paper airplanes.  

01/17/2012 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

To have known my mother-in-law was to have tasted her cooking.  Unfortunately, I never did.

I was an enigma to her, and she to me, from the very beginning.  With the former Yugoslavia in the throes of violent civil war, I found myself — an observant, then twenty-something girl from the Upper West Side — in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, in the fall of 1992. Her son and I met in the local Jewish community center, where I spent my days at work with Jewish refugees from neighboring Bosnia and he volunteered between medical school exams. 

12/27/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

“Can I feed you?” he asked Joe, impatiently holding lunch and duly aware of the onlooker.

“Get the hell out of here!” Joe snarled, his face red. “You can tell the principal, damn it! Didn’t ask my sister for permission. Son-of-a-bitch,” Joe muttered under his breath.

Joe’s caretaker, Steve, waited for Joe to calm down. He then asked, “Would you like Avram to feed you?” pointing to me. “Of course I want him to feed me!” Joe shouted. “What do you think this is, a chicken coop?”

12/06/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

It is the eighth day following the birth of my baby. I sit upstairs in my home nursing my child in preparation for the vigors of the ceremony that welcomes newborns into the covenant of Israel. A few minutes later, I gently hand the baby to my father and join my mother and my husband, Dan, at the back of the living room downstairs. The baby emerges in my father’s arms to the sound of our guests greeting the child with the traditional Hebrew welcome.  My father sits in the specially designated chair of Elijah, the prophet known for defending the covenant and protecting children.