First Person

Finding Germany’s Bright Side Amid A Tide Of Refugees


Berlin — When supporters of the anti-immigrant PEGIDA movement and right-wing extremists in the former East Germany started demonstrating by the tens of thousands this year against foreigners and “American Zionist” policies, I got mad.

A Berlin fireman speaking to refugee children earlier this month. Judith Kessler

A Box Of Memories

Special To The Jewish Week

At my son’s recent high school graduation, my emotion-fueled thoughts were all over the place. Yet I kept coming back to the Talmudic teaching that we master the entire Torah in utero, only to have an angel tap us on the mouth and erase that knowledge at the moment we enter the world. It was hard to believe the strapping graduate had once been that small, because there he was: ready to leave for a year of study in Israel, the next leg in his quest to relearn what was snatched from him the day he was born. 

Merri Ukraincik

To Kill A Hero

Special To The Jewish Week

Do you love the name Atticus?

Most people do. It has increased in popularity for 15 consecutive years. In 2014, it was involuntarily bestowed upon 846 boys and 9 girls. This year, it was the single most popular name on the hip Actors Jennifer Love Hewitt, Casey Affleck, Mary-Louise Parker, Daniel Baldwin and Israeli heartthrob Oded Fehr all chose it for their children.

Dr. Isaac Herschkopf

Summers At Lake Waubeeka

Special To The Jewish Week

I love New York City, but not in the summer heat when unpleasant fumes permeate the air and melted gum on the sidewalk sticks to my shoes. Summer to me is sitting outside in sweet air with a book and a cool drink, hiking in the woods, and swimming. In other words, summer is for going to the country.

Michelle Friedman

Do The Right Thing

Special To The Jewish Week

It was a Tuesday morning, about 8:30 a.m., and I headed off to work in my blue Honda as I usually do. I turned into the office parking lot, and noticed that a vehicle was already parked in the spot that I ordinarily take. No problem, I thought, and I quickly found another parking space close by.

Michael Feldstein

In Charleston, At The Corner Of Pain And Hope

A rabbi's view from the ground in post-Massacre South Carolina.

Special To The Jewish Week

Charleston, S.C. — In last Shabbat’s Torah portion, we read the last words recorded in the Bible uttered by the people of the first generation that left Egypt but did not reach the Promised Land. After all of the struggles and challenges and the sins and death and destruction, they plaintively ask, “ha-im tamnu ligvoah?” — “Have we come to the end of our dying?” or, left unspoken, will such tragedies continue and continue?

Barbara Owens leaves a message on a tree in front of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Getty Images

Reunion At Kibbutz Lavi

Special To The Jewish Week

Driving around Israel with my husband is always a journey into his life before we met, since Aryeh was born and raised in pre-state Palestine and I’m third-generation American. But this time was different as he pointed out places that were going to take on new meaning as the weekend progressed.

Sura Jeselsohn

A Rabbi Learns From His Mistakes

Special To The Jewish Week

During my first week as a rabbi 45 years ago, even before I had a chance to shelve my books in my office, I was visited by a middle-aged husband-and-wife whose tears and tone suggested death and bereavement. Indeed, they were mourning, but not the physical passing of a loved one. Their grief was for their son — I’ll call him Sam — who was educated in our synagogue’s religious school and who celebrated his bar mitzvah on its pulpit. He had lately committed both his spiritual and material assets to an Eastern sect and its guru. Would I talk with Sam and persuade him that Judaism could nurture him more than his newly found faith?

Gerald Zelizer

No Cavalier Decision

Special To The Jewish Week

Although I have rooted for the New York Knicks since the 1970s, this year I become a Cleveland Cavaliers fan. My attraction to the team stems from an even deeper connection than the childhood bond I formed with the Knicks. 

Ben Krull

Brand Name Jewish Education

Special To The Jewish Week

It began with a Facebook posting. Hesitantly, this past Chanukah I joined the ranks of millions who participate in “Throwback Thursday,” the day when people post a nostalgic photo. The response caught me off guard. 

Malka Margolies
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