First Person

Giving Voice

Special To The Jewish Week

To escape persecution and even death, my parents posed as Muslims while living in Mashhad, Iran, in the 1940s. Like the Marranos of Spain, they and their underground Jewish community artfully balanced dual identities. Outside, my mother wore the black chador, concealing herself from head to toe.

Esther Amini

Pulling His Punches

Special To The Jewish Week

‘Stand sideways,” my father says. “Like this.” He plants his feet, left in front of right, pointing toward me, and I imitate his stance. “That makes you a narrow target, harder to hit.”

Bob Brody

Dancing Into The Purim Night

Revelers from the Upper West Side see a side of Borough Park they never imagined.

Special To The Jewish Week

Our motley crew of revelers, carrying our stereotypes of chasidic Brooklyn with us like so much baggage, step onto the D train, bound for the 19th century. It’s a recent Purim and we’re headed to Borough Park, where chasidim are known to host some of the most raucous festivities to mark the improbable victory over Haman.

Some Purim table dancing in Brooklyn. Getty Images

To Halve And Halve Not

Special To The Jewish Week

Grey lay on the bed, eyes closed, and waited for the soft and silky Tamar with the delicate baby powder scent to join him. Though time and use had dulled some of his brightness, Grey hid his frayed edges and sucked in as best he could the stretch in his middle that had recently appeared. Sounds of fabric rustling.

Angela Himsel

A Turning Of The Page

Special To The Jewish Week

My grandmother never owned a smartphone. Yet she worked full-time, raised a family and always remembered our birthdays.

Merri Ukraincik

‘No Such Thing As A Chanukah Bush’

Special To The Jewish Week

We’re the only Jews in Pennypack Woods, Pa. We exchange gifts on Christmas with our neighbors and each other, but have never had decorations that look or smell like Christmas.

Except once — when I’m 5.

“Can we please, please have a Christmas tree, Mommy?” I sob. “I’m the only one in our whole neighborhood without Christmas and I feel so left out. We don’t have any holiday, and Christmas is so beautiful.”

My parents finally exchange that look.

“OK, we’ll have a tree — a Chanukah bush. And Nana and Poppop must never know.”

Ellen Schecter

Someone To Watch Over Him

Special To The Jewish Week

I am standing by The Western Wall in Jerusalem, a place I have stood many times before. I have prayed here, I have cried here and — God forgive me — I have mingled here. 

Andrew Kane

Good Fences

Special To The Jewish Week

On Friday at dusk, I’m walking down Columbus Avenue on my way to my friend Eva’s house for Shabbat dinner, carrying a bottle of wine to give her. A woman pushing a toddler in a stroller passes me. Recognizing her as someone from my synagogue, I wish her a Good Shabbos, and she smiles and wishes me the same.

Angela Himsel

A Midlife Song Of Praise

Special To The Jewish Week

I’m standing in a song-leading class at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Cantor David Tilman is leading us in “Ozi V’zimrat Yah” (“You are my strength and my song”). My body is beginning to relax. Natural concerns of middle age — “All four kids will be home for Shabbes, I have to order the chicken, pick up the bok choy” — are beginning to recede. We’re belting it out. The sounds are reverberating with wonder. I am beginning to breathe. The Hebrew word to breathe is linshom. Neshama is at its root. The soul. To give life to the soul.

Dvorah Telushkin

From Zuckerman To Zuckerberg

Special To The Jewish Week

Philip Roth has apparently discovered the Internet.

In an open letter posted on The New Yorker website, the novelist explained that he recently visited the Wikipedia page dedicated to his novel The Human Stain, finding it factually incorrect.

Daniel Schifrin
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