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Waterfront Beggar

January 12, 2006, by

My Great Aunt Ella was a legend in her own time.  “The Johnny Appleseed of chessed,” one irreverent cousin once declared, after reading a book about the well-known figure, and the name stuck.  In our family, Aunt Ella was the soft touch, the gentle, kindly soul that could see no harm in anyone, even boisterous

Coming out of the Orthodox Jewish Closet

January 12, 2006, by

Sixteen years ago, after picking up the gauntlet my husband threw down ( “Stop kvetching about wanting to be a published writer; sit down and write a book” ), I began my first mystery and followed the conventional wisdom: Write what you know. In my case, that was Orthodox Judaism. Like my parents, Polish Jews

Baruch’s Birthday

December 28, 2005, by

Magdu and Ambat Eyob grew up in neighboring villages in the Quara district of northern Ethiopia. “Even though the Jewish community was small, we made sure not to marry cousins,” says Ambat, serving soft drinks in the family’s apartment in Jerusalem’s Neveh Ya’acov neighborhood. “The men farmed, and women stayed home with the children.” The

Oil and Water

December 22, 2005, by

When I was growing up, we never visited my father’s sister, my Aunt Shirl, who lived in Boston. The very mention of her would cause my mother’s eyes to cross. I knew that my mother couldn’t bear to be around her, although I didn’t know why. The few times I had been with Shirl, she

A Gift Called “Reizy”

December 1, 2005, by

This true story is written as heard from Tzippy, the woman involved. She agreed to tell over her personal story so that its profound message could influence and encourage as many people as possible. Tzippy pointed to a framed picture on the sideboard in her dining room. I couldn’t help but smile at the cherubic

Adi’s Angel

November 23, 2005, by

Adi Huja, 16, observed the second anniversary of the terrorist bombing which almost took her life at Hadassah Hospital, preparing to undergo her 26th operation. On that fateful Saturday night two years ago, Adi and her friends had gone to eat ice cream sundaes at a cafe on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall. Two Arab

From Good Morning America to the Tefillin Challenge

November 17, 2005, by

How does one journey as a secular Jew and a producer for ABC’s “Good Morning America” — from attending White House Christmas parties and walking the sands of Saudi Arabia, to attending morning minyans (prayer services) at an Orthodox shul (synagogue) in Washington, D.C.? The short answer is, with a great deal of difficulty and

My Rat’s Tale

November 9, 2005, by

Early one morning, I entered my kitchen and found a persimmon and an apple partly gnawed. Bits of persimmon skin were splattered on my kitchen counter. Horrified and disgusted, I shrieked for my husband. He called the exterminator. The exterminator verified that it was a rat, not a mouse. He set three rat traps with

Rabbi Scheinberg’s Laughter

October 17, 2005, by

If you ask me why he laughed, I’ll say: your guess is as good as mine. Who am I to understand a tzaddik? At the time, I thought I must be missing something. I was. Then he laughed more, and I thought he must be seeing this question from some larger perspective. He was. A

The Ancient Infant Within Us

October 11, 2005, by

You and I know what it’s like, because we’re both human: the sense of innocence, and of having been wronged. The keen desire to craft some put-down that will diminish the other person as he has diminished us, to put him back down and ourselves back up; to restore our dignity as it must be