First Person

Operating On Faith

01/19/2016 - 12:09
Special To The Jewish Week

Last spring, I consented to a surgical face-off with a medical condition that had left me with no other options. Still, it had taken serious convincing for me to overlook the risks and pin my hopes on the procedure’s life-changing potential.

Merri Ukraincik

Bound To Tradition

01/05/2016 - 13:55
Special To The Jewish Week

My tefillin-zekl — the small velvet sack in which I store my phylacteries — tells me a story early every morning, when I open it in preparation for davening. 

Jerome A. Chanes

Bound To The ‘Boat People’

12/22/2015 - 10:14
Special To The Jewish Week

On Thanksgiving I was reunited with a Vietnamese family with whom I had no contact for more than 30 years. It was a heartwarming reunion and a poignant reminder that aiding immigrants and refugees is not only a matter of advocating enlightened policy, but also should be seen as a personal responsibility — and a wonderful opportunity.

Martin Raffel

Tied To Jackson Heights, Still

12/15/2015 (All day)
Special To The Jewish Week

I grew up in the small but undaunted Orthodox community of Jackson Heights, back in the 1950s and ’60s. I turned my back on the humble turf, as much for its relentless exhortation of piety as its failure to thrive.

Susan Reimer-Torn. Photo by Joan Roth

Anti-Semitism And Me

I used to be bored by it; now I no longer have that luxury.

11/16/2015 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

I’ve always been bored by anti-Semitism, contemptuous even, of those who look for it everywhere and then find it. If you look hard enough, you can find anything you want. Anyway, it always seemed to me a thing of the past.

Beth Kisseleff

I Was Behind The Mechitza

11/09/2015 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week

I was behind the mechitza. I did not like it. 

How could it possibly happen, that I, a regular shulgoer in the Orthodox world, would find myself behind the mechitza at a Shabbat service?

Jerome A. Chanes

The ‘Primitive’ Immigrants

10/26/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

Politicians who find sport in demonizing immigrants often praise their European ancestors, who came to the United States from abroad. Previous generations of immigrants, after all, supposedly valued work and family, to achieve the American dream. But a recent reading of Kate Simon’s 1982 best-selling memoir “Bronx Primitive” suggested that the Eastern Europeans who passed through Ellis Island in the early 1900s were less admirable than they’ve been depicted.

Ben Krull

A Field Of Wheelchairs

10/12/2015 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

When one walks into the Shabbat service of the Jewish Home Lifecare, it seems the rabbi and cantor are conducting a service entirely for themselves. The room is full of wheelchairs and walkers, canes and assistants. There seems to be little stirring, an eerie stillness. Opening with the Ma Tovu prayer, Rabbi Jonathan Malamy explains how we begin by praising God, then we petition God. It is basically praise and praising and more praising. It can seem that these words are falling on yawning mouths, hanging heads.

Dvorah Telushkin

Finding Germany’s Bright Side Amid A Tide Of Refugees

09/16/2015 - 20:00

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

09/09/2015 - 20:00
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
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