First Person

I gave my child the Jewiest name

(Kveller via JTA) — I took a poll of my friends when I was pregnant. We run in an observant crowd in Manhattan, and most of our friends have the kinds of names you’d find multiple times over at your Jewish summer camp: Adams and Davids, Elianas and Yaels. My… Read more »

8 things I learned in my first year as a mom

  (Kveller via JTA) — My baby is 14 months now, talking like a maniac and taking very halting first steps (his development pattern echoes his highly verbal and unathletic parents). And in many ways so far, the past few months have been more challenging than anything I encountered… Read more »

My Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Mom Day

(Kveller via JTA) — It is one of those days. I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. To every question posed to me in the morning, I immediately answer, “NO! No I can’t help you!” Even when it makes no sense, even when my children aren’t… Read more »

FIRST PERSON I’m Jewish and I just became an EU citizen. It feels a little like boarding the Titanic.

Cnaan Liphshiz, his wife and eldest son in a tulip field near Amsterdam, April 3, 2016. (Courtesy of Liphshiz)

  AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Considering Marine Le Pen’s historical gains in the French presidential elections, the Dutch far-right’s rise and the assault on ritual slaughter in Belgium, this spring is shaping up to be a life-changing time for Europe — its religious minorities in particular. In other words, it’s… Read more »

Tucson program yields glimpse of the Divine

I  recently completed the reading of all 15 volumes of “The Cambridge History of English Literature” by A.W. Ward and A.R. Waller. It took me several years. When it came to the history of religious writing having to do with Christianity and its various forms and manifestations, the authors paid… Read more »

FIRST PERSON Fear and loathing, but mostly loathing, on the campaign trail

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate, at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 9, 2016. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

  (JTA) — Some of us are voting for Trump. Most of us are voting for Clinton. But we Jews are all afraid. There are the scandals, yes. There are emails and sexual assault allegations and emails and fraud and racism and anti-Semitism and emails. There are issues like… Read more »

With U.S.-Cuba ties restored, family joins Tucson man on long-awaited homecoming visit

Tucsonan Billie Kozolchyk, right, with Adela Dworin, vice president of the Patronato de la casa de la comunidad Hebrea de Cuba in Havana, the equivalent of a Jewish federation in the United States. (Courtesy Billie Kozolchyk)

So we went to Cuba. Big deal, you say? Everybody’s going to Cuba. It seems not a single U.S. institution, big or small, isn’t arranging tours and oh yes, cruises, too. But our trip was different. My husband, Boris, had left his native Cuba pre-Fidel in 1956, to continue… Read more »

Yom HaShoah service sparks tears — and hope

Tucsonan Wolfgang Hellpap, a Holocaust survivor from Berlin, Germany, lights the sixth candle at the Yom Ha- Shoah Commemoration held Sunday, May 1 at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. Jasmin Rendon, a student at Pima Community College, served as his escort. (Courtesy Christians United for Israel-Arizona)

They killed us — just because we were Jews. It didn’t matter if we were babies, or children, mothers or fathers; it didn’t matter if we were secular or religious, observant or not; they killed us — in camps, in forced labor, in resistance. They killed us because we… Read more »

FIRST PERSON At Passover, cherishing the freedom to help others

Shelly Silverman

As we finish up the week of Passover, I feel especially aware of what freedom means. Freedom is a word that encompasses so much. But for me, the freedom to have choices in so many arenas in my life is almost overwhelming. I can CHOOSE to do almost anything.… Read more »

FIRST PERSON: When Brussels meant freedom from fear for an Israeli

A man walks in an empty tunnel of the closed subway central station in Brussels, Belgium, Nov. 21, 2015. (Nicolas Maeterlinck/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Growing up, trips to stay with my Jewish family in Brussels were a taste of freedom. In my native Israel, waves of Palestinian terrorist attacks kept me under constant maternal surveillance. Fear of regular bus bombings limited my excursions to biking distance. On the tranquil streets of… Read more »

REMEMBRANCE The Supreme Court’s Jewish gentile: My memories of Justice Scalia

From left, Nathan Lewin, Sima Soumekhian, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Marc Zweben at the Char Bar in Washington, D.C., the kosher restaurant owned by Soumekhian and Zweben, May 2015. (Alyza Lewin)

  WASHINGTON (JTA) – “When there was no Jewish justice on the Supreme Court,” Antonin “Nino”Scalia told me, “I considered myself the Jewish justice.” After Abe Fortas resigned in May 1969, there would be no Jewish justice on the court for nearly a quarter of a century, until President… Read more »

At Thanksgiving, joy and terror in Israel

Jacob Ezra Schwartz

Last week, I celebrated Thanksgiving in Israel in the most unusual yet meaningful way. We had a regular day filled with Gemara and Torah learning, but in the evening, I had the honor of attending both an azkara (memorial service) for American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz (no relation) and… Read more »

In Vienna, bearing witness on the frontlines of Europe’s refugee crisis

Roberta Elliott, a Tucson winter resident volunteering to help refugees in Vienna, Austria, last month, sorts through piles of donated shoes. (Courtesy Roberta Elliott)

The U.S. Passport Control agent greeted me with uncustomary warmth as I returned to Newark Liberty Airport on Nov. 2. “Was your trip business or vacation?” he asked. For a split second I hesitated, but answered firmly “vacation.” How could I tell him that the time I had just… Read more »

Talking about the end of life takes courage, commitment

The Days of Awe are a pivotal time of year, a time of introspection, of remembrance, and a time to dream anew. We stand on the ground of the entirety of our lives, looking back at the variegated landscape of our past experiences, and forward into the misty mystery… Read more »

Finding Germany’s bright side amid a tide of refugees

Refugee children visit a fire station in Berlin, September 2015. (Judith Kessler)

BERLIN (JTA) — When supporters of the anti-immigrant PEGIDA movement and right-wing extremists in the former East Germany started demonstrating by the tens of thousands this year against foreigners and “American Zionist” policies, I got mad. When the first refugee homes in Germany were set on fire, I was shocked. When… Read more »

Talking to my son about what happens after we die

Jenn Book Haselwerdt (Courtesy of the author)

My 4-year-old son can’t get enough of dragons and monsters, and — as is appropriate for his age — asking questions about dragons and monsters. Books about the topic have completely taken over our library shelf. He loves reading legends and contemporary stories about them, from luck dragons to… Read more »