July 20, 2019
Enraged at Balaam, Balak struck his hands together. “I called you,” Balak said to Balaam, “to damn my enemies, and instead you have blessed them these three times!”
The king, Balak, sent Balaam to curse the Israelites, who were amassed at the border of Moab. King Balak was aware that the Israelites were on the march. He was also aware that they were capable of crushing their enemies. Curse them, Balak commanded, and deny them entry into the land.
June 22, 2018
How were they, who were once part of the fabric of society, the body politic, ripped asunder, extirpated?
Debórah Dwork, Children with a Star: Jewish Youth in Nazi Europe, 1991, xlvi.
There are so many questions to ask about how a people reaches a point allowing its government to separate children from their parents and, for all intents and purposes, incarcerates them. And there is another set of questions to ask about what activates this people to insist that its government change course.
Making people feel, I’ll argue, is perhaps the greatest single factor in that activation process. more >
November 24, 2015
We meet every month or two. We sit around a long table, sometimes in a dark-paneled room in the church downtown where my temple is located, sometimes in a brightly lit conference room in a neighborhood cultural center. We are middle-aged, Reform Jews. We are young, ritually observant, Turkish Muslims. We kvell over babies and share baked treats. Our conversations focus on favorite passages from our respective books of scripture, the role music plays in our worship services, the “bad women” in our faith traditions, and so on. We volunteer a few times a year at a food bank or soup kitchen. We call ourselves “Sisters in Spirit.”more >
April 16, 2013
Many years ago, Lily and I toured the ancient city of Nazareth with our Haifa friends and their three kids. It was hot, so all the kids were eating popsicles. Lily finished her treat. She wanted to throw away her popsicle stick. She scanned the city street for trash cans. We walked a few blocks, and without a garbage receptacle in sight, she asked our friends what to do with her leftover stick. They told her to throw it on the ground. She protested: “That’s littering!”more >
December 13, 2012
Just a week left, now, until the winter solstice, and less than twenty-four hours until kids start coming home from college. Mark and I have had a pretty terrific couple of months in our empty nest.
Highlights of our time together: a day at The Big E (annual regional fair in Springfield, MA) to celebrate Rosh Hashanah; hearing brilliant banjo player Bela Fleck in concert at Berklee School of Music; making new friends at the Indian classical dance recital of the daughter of old friends; and babysitting our two favorite little boys. The humdrum has been terrific, too. We’ve watched TV together, talked over the newspapers at meals, gone out to the Cape for long walks with Amos. Was this what life was like twenty years ago, before we were parents? Maybe it’s even better now.more >
December 23, 2011
Sam got home from school last Thursday. I picked him up from South Station. Max arrived this past Saturday evening on a bus from New York. Mark and I were at a party for our favorite nonagenarian, so we couldn’t get him. A friend of his ferried him to the house. And on Monday, after she’d finished her exams, handed in her last essay, and tidied her room, Lily got an extra special lift home from Max and Sam, who had driven out to Western Mass to bring her home from college. The three of them took a detour on their way back to collect a gorgeous ceramic bowl they’d ordered.more >
April 19, 2009
Today marks the 22nd anniversary of my mother’s death. She was diagnosed with two unrelated cancers in the space of five years. Survived the first. Was killed by the second. I was 24, she 56, when she died. I have lived almost half my life without her.more >
April 8, 2009
I was feeling exceptionally sorry for myself this morning. Sad and dreary. Low and teary. I cancelled our Passover seder because Max has been sick.
Max came home Monday afternoon saying he “felt like shit.” Pale face. Glassy eyes. Wickedly sore throat, he reported. A quick date with the thermometer revealed a fever of 101.6. Sixteen year olds don’t generally run those kinds of fevers. And Max hasn’t had more than an occasional cold all year. He tucked himself into bed and slept, on and off, until morning. more >