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Varda Branfman

Passaic: Impressions of a Native Daughter

December 27, 2007, by

Saturday afternoons in my childhood meant catching a movie matinee in Downtown Passaic. It was a time of such momentous decisions as whether to see Jerry Lewis at the Capitol Theatre or be scared out of my wits by “The Return of the Giant Spider” at the Montauk, whether to buy the milk duds or

Journal Writing: An Experience in Owning One’s Life

November 8, 2007, by

My best writing is in my journal. Closed to the world, but completely open for my eyes and Hashem’s. A place for dreams, visions, dialogues, regrets, memories, remorse, resuscitations, conflict resolutions, agendas, lists, letters written—mailed—and received without leaving the page. Chaotic garden of tall weeds and blossoms hidden in the undergrowth. If it weren’t for

A Harvest of Stones

October 25, 2007, by

Jerusalem as the spiritual center of the universe suddenly became a tangible reality recently. The discovery was made right up the street from my home in the suburban neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. The state-run Antiquities Authority was doing a routine salvage excavation ahead of the planned construction of a new school. They stumbled on a

A Sojourn in the Garden

July 11, 2006, by

Slideshow of a Sojourn How would I have known about Gan Eden if I had not seen it with my own eyes? It was a torrential expanse of beauty that hit me like a flood, and my eyes closed by reflex. With my eyes shut, I smelled the sweet mixture of woods and flowers, and

Missing the Rabbi

February 22, 2006, by

Rabbi Shlomo Twersky,ztl, with his son, some years ago. Most people are highly corruptible. They may have ideals and lofty visions, but very often, they can be deflected off course by their own drives and desires. The Rabbi was incorruptible. I knew it when I sat across from him during one of our private talks,

The Silver Spice Box

January 19, 2006, by

The silver spice box stood at the back of our mahogany sideboard.  The box was tarnished, and the flag up top was bent over.  As a child of six or seven, I would sit at the dining room table and spin the flag as I pictured the tiny princess who lived behind those silver filigree