First Person

Leaps Of Faith

11/05/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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There was never even a discussion. We just knew that our boys would attend Jewish day school. But when our youngest, a self-determined soul from the very beginning, needed something different from what the yeshiva system could provide, we as his parents found ourselves staring down the tough decision we never thought we’d have to make. It’s been seven years since our son began kindergarten at the local elementary school, named for a Supreme Court justice, not a codifier of Jewish law.   

Merri Ukraincik

The Territories Within

10/15/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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As the summer Sunday of ArtsFest drew near, apprehensions about the solo journey to the country and not knowing anyone else who was going got the best of me. At 12, I failed at Camp Sabra — my best friend, Diane Greenberg, took up with her new set of friends from her new junior high. I was left alone.

Shelly R. Fredman

Higher Ground At Disney World

09/17/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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The first half of the holiday morning service concludes. In accordance with tradition, many congregants exit the shul sanctuary and mingle outside for a few minutes. The Yizkor books containing the short memorial service are distributed. No one thinks to hand one to a teenage girl. A few understanding glances come my way, but those who don’t know me just stare. I feel out of place. I don’t belong here; I am too young for this. I feel alone.

Miriam Lichtenberg

Holy Days And Women’s Empowerment

09/10/2013
JTA
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Each year when I sit in synagogue during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, I’m struck by the complex stories we read about biblical women and by the wisdom these stories offer about ensuring the dignity of women and girls today.

Ruth Messinger

The Shtarker Image

09/03/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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It’s high time for a Jewish innovations catalog, and I have just the one: “The Shtarker Image.” In Yiddish “shtark” means strong or powerful, smart, tough-minded or hard-hearted. But for my purposes, shtark refers to terrific Jewish items you thought you could live without until you actually owned them.

Erica Brown

Rose, Adeef And Me, Graveside

08/27/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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‘The weather is holding out on us,” an older volunteer says as he sits down.

Avram Mlotek

The Loneliest Kaddish

08/13/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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I’d known Joel since I was 14, when we bonded over golf, skiing and baseball. Over the years while he was married to my sister, our relationship ebbed and flowed, as is often the case with brothers-in-law. Since their divorce I ran into him once at a local golf course where I ended up playing with him, and saw him once again at my niece’s wedding. 

Andrew Kane

Cooking For Michael Pollan

07/16/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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Driving through the California farmland near my home, I was listening closely to an interview on National Public Radio with Michael Pollan. He’s a hero in these parts, and I was really surprised to hear him say that he’s had to eat restaurant food while on tour for his new book, “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.”

Isa Jacoby

A Voice From The Past

06/18/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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I am the eldest of four siblings. I was 10 when my Grampa died.  Larry was 8; Eddie was 4 and Ronnie was not yet born. So I am the one who carries the memories, of which I have only two, and those are more impressionistic than they are specific.

Barbara Kessel

From Pulpit Rabbi To At-Home Mom

05/28/2013
Special To The Jewish Week

I’ve never been one to hide our son Ben’s diagnosis. I’ve always spoken openly about the difficulties that Asperger’s can create for him as he navigates a world rife with bumps at every turn. But what I did conceal for many years was the pain I felt — the sometimes-oppressive nature that an autism diagnosis can foist upon all the members of a family. The isolation. The depression.

I hid behind my work. I hid behind the tasks I had been called to do when I was ordained as a rabbi. I shielded my son from much of the public aspect that comes with being the child of a congregational rabbi. I shielded my California congregation from seeing the sometimes-ugly aspects of a complicated and misunderstood disorder.

Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr
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