As the youngest of three sisters, I agree wholeheartedly with Miriam Arond, who writes in this issue that sisters are one of the great gifts of life. In these fall weeks when the cycle of Torah readings turns to the stories of Genesis, Text/Context investigates the deep and complicated relationships among siblings. In a terrific new book of essays, “Freud’s Blind Spot: Writers on Siblings” edited by Elisa Albert, novelist Nellie Herman writes, “The story of my siblings is the story of who I am.”
We’re pleased to welcome several new voices to these pages. Adriane Leveen, a member of our editorial advisory board, writes about favoritism and its consequences among brothers in Genesis. Miriam Arond focuses on the bond between sisters, featuring an interview with Deborah Tannen, whose latest book is “You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives.”
On a literary path, Anita Norich looks at the three Yiddish writers in the Singer family — and how their work was influenced by their shared history.
Etgar Keret tells of a lifetime of trailing his older brother, and Lynn Harris reflects on what it’s like to be an only child preparing her daughter for a new sibling. Eric Herschthal reports on international links between residents of sister cities. And Jerome A. Chanes connects some dots between the Bible, Freud and Sholem Aleichem.
A word about the art on our cover: When Helen Maryles Shankman was commissioned to do a portrait of two Manhattan sisters, she was struck by the resemblance of the beautiful pair with John Singer Sargent’s 1882 painting “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit.” So she tried to reflect the feeling of that work as she painted the impish side of Danya and solemn side of Kira — whom she has known since birth. A classically trained contemporary realist painter, Shankman loves dramatic lighting, the way light highlights emotion. Her hope is that the painting captures viewers’ attention and curiosity about the girls. At left are Danya and Kira today (left and right, as they are in the portrait), now in fourth and second grades at Ramaz.
And speaking of siblings, enjoy my sister Diane’s paintings in these pages.
Thanks to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for so generously opening its archive to us. In the last issue, the photo caption on page 9 should have indicated that the men were drawing water from a horse-drawn tank to tend new trees in 1930 Palestine.
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