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Sarah Shapiro

Every Day is Yom Kippur

September 11, 2010, by

When I’m on vacation, I do it all the way. Not only does my physical self go off-duty; my mind, too, takes off on a leave of absence I know not where. This means that one summer when I as a young mother was visiting relatives in America, it was very hard to carry my

The Fifth Glass of Vodka

October 15, 2009, by

As a young scholar, the great Chassidic Rebbe R’ Bunim traveled extensively on business throughout Eastern Europe. In his own mind, however, his real occupation was not the pursuit of wealth but the opening of souls. One rainy winter night, R’ Bunim happily found shelter from a frigid downpour at an inn along his route.

Two Sisters At War

November 26, 2008, by

Peace in the Middle East may be hard to find, but on Thanksgiving Day in the year 2000, two Jewish sisters in Los Angeles found their way to a cease-fire, courtesy of Peggy Post. Peggy Post is the granddaughter of Emily Post, who, as we all know, served for several generations as the world’s greatest

Space at the Wall

September 18, 2008, by

Sibling rivalry is not just for siblings, and family’s not just the nuclear kind. Yesterday at 5 a.m., wanting some quality time alone with my Creator, the fact that the #2 to the Western Wall was packed full of my brethren didn’t seem like anything to celebrate, nor did the sight, when I stepped off

The Saddest Noise, the Sweetest Noise

July 31, 2008, by

The saddest noise, the sweetest noise, The maddest noise that grows, The birds, they make it in the spring At night’s delicious close. Between the March and April line, That magical frontier Beyond which summer hesitates, Almost too heavenly near… The 19th century poet Emily Dickinson penned these lines in the early-American, churchgoing town of

My Importance: Writing and the Yetzer Hara

March 6, 2008, by

There’s a story about a revered rabbi on his deathbed, who is asked by his students: “Tell us, what is it like now that you’re about to die, when the yetzer hara has surely freed you from its clutches?” And the rabbi says something along these lines: “No, the yetzer hara is still bothering me,

Praise Him With Cymbals

January 10, 2008, by

At the hospital, Chaya Rivkah wasn’t in her usual bed. I’d arrived late, and it took several more minutes to find a nurse who could locate her. In the doorway of the Outpatients Ward, I glanced around apprehensively. When it had last been my turn with her, about a week before, Chaya Rivkah had been

Beggars at The Wall

December 27, 2007, by

The morning of November 11th marked the first weekday in three decades that I wasn’t confronted by beggars when approaching the Western Wall (Kotel). After a long history of complaints from tourists and residents, a front-page article in The Jerusalem Post had reported, beggars had at last been banned from Judaism’s holiest site. So their

On Jewish Mothers and Their Writing

November 8, 2007, by

It’s getting late and the writing workshop’s about to adjourn, but one of the women has one more poem: it’s short, she assures them, and something composed after breakfast that morning. Around the table sit an unmarried, newly religious sculptor from Greenwich Village; a frum-from-birth grandmother from Boro park; a religious Zionist in her sixties,

A Real Home

August 30, 2007, by

“I always wanted a real homewith flowers on the windowsill.”— Carol King, popular song from the 1970sWithin hours of first breathing the cattle car’s nauseating air, we began to feel at home. “Home” was the edge of the wooden plank I sat on. — Elie Wiesel, Memoirs In the Jerusalem living-room of an elderly, Yiddish-speaking