First Person

10/11/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

By any reasonable criterion, our sukkah is problematic. It’s weird looking, for one thing. A pre-fab thingamabobby of aluminum tubes, bungee cords and army-green canvas, it couldn’t be more unlike its surroundings, which are some lovely old cottages in the woods. It looks like Buckminster Fuller went to work on an architectural experiment in the middle of an English forest, then wandered off before he was done.

09/13/2011 | | Staff Writer | First Person

I never remember the names of the patients into whose rooms I step to blow the shofar every Rosh HaShanah in Lutheran Medical Center, an unpretentious hospital in Sunset Park, Brooklyn’s working-class neighborhood that borders on the Gowanus Canal. I routinely introduce myself to the patient, the surrounding kin or friends, the attending physicians or nurses, the infirm in the next bed; I simply say I am here to blow the shofar for the New Year, ask if they would like to hear it, quickly put the ram’s horn to my lips.

09/06/2011 | | Israel Correspondent | First Person

On Sept. 11, as I watched a plane hit the World Trade Center’s South Tower, my first thoughts were for my loved ones, who live and work in New York, and for the people stuck in the buildings.

Stunned by the extent of the tragedy, only later did I call my travel agent to see whether the flight my husband and I were scheduled to fly on two days later had been cancelled.

09/02/2011 | | Jewish Week Online Columnist | First Person

One of the primary areas in daily life where I strive for piety is in my eating choices. Jewish tradition is rich with wisdom pertinent to our greatest moral problems related to food consumption today: hunger, just labor practices, treatment of animals, fair trade, environmental impact, and access to healthy food options. I have become more interested in exploring the degree to which the lifestyles advised in Chassidic thought can assist the moral life choices of one seeking to eat and consume more justly.

08/16/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

When I agreed to teach Jewish law at Humboldt University in Berlin — the only European law school to offer such a course — I assumed I could be reasonable and objective about Germany. I was naïve. No American, certainly no Jew, comes to Germany clean. There are too many memories, too many inherited cultural images and prejudices.

07/26/2011 | | Special To The Jewish Week | First Person

Recently, my 20-month-old son asked for cookies for breakfast. “No,” I said, “it’s not time for cookies.” “Yeah,” he agreed. “It’s Shabbat.” (It was in fact, a Tuesday). How had he concluded — already (!!!) — that Shabbat was a day of no? I had felt relatively comfortable that Shabbat in our house was more a day of togetherness and play. But once again, he knew better.