Discussion of Josh Swiller's first book, "The Unheard," published in September, and his recent reading at Dutton's Bookstore in Brentwood. Swiller's book deals with his time in Africa with the Peace Corps, and in it he tells a story of deafness and Africa, explaining how, in African villages, he communicated in English, Bemba and oftentimes without words.
In 2002 I wrote "Tropical Depression: Lost in Paradise," an essay about my misadventures as a newly minted
expat. It was published about six months after I arrived from San Francisco to tiny, rural La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica.
Relocating to Central America seemed like a good idea at the time. The previous year, I'd spent an idyllic six-week vacation here. So why not make the move? It was only after I arrived that I remembered that "Vacation Life" and "Real Life" aren't the same. By then, it was too late to turn back. I had an empty bank account and a bungalow full of stuff I'd paid dearly to ship from the States.
I also failed to anticipate the experience of being the only Jew in town. I'd always lived in communities that were primarily non-Jewish, and since my level of observance tended to ebb and flow, it wasn't a problem. There were always shuls, Jewish organizations and businesses available to me when I wanted them.
Paul Kurzberg, an Israeli from Pardess Hanna, was in the office of his New Jersey moving company on Sept. 11, 2001, when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
Like many Israeli movers in the New York area, Kurzberg, who was in his late 20s, was not legally authorized to work in the United States. But on Sept. 11, that thought was distant from his mind as he and his friends piled into a company van after the second plane hit the World Trade Center to find a better vantage point to photograph the historic terrorist attack.
It proved to be a critical mistake.
Davi Cheng had some trepidation when she went to Hillel for the first time. She tried to feel comfortable, but she couldn't understand the language of the services and the liturgical rituals were confusing.
Then she spied something unfamiliar on a bookshelf that made her feel right at home: a shofar.
The apple, even more than the bibical pomegranate, has become the symbolic first fruit to be eaten during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which will be observed at sundown, Wednesday, Sept. 15.
During Rosh Hashanah, tradition calls for a perfect apple to be pared and cut into as many pieces as there are people present. A piece of the apple is dipped in honey and passed to each person at the table before the meal begins to symbolize a sweet and joyous New Year.
At Jewish Family Service's Freedom Seder, participants read from a haggadah that was just a little bit different. Instead of reading of the four sons, those at the Freedom Seder read about the "four community members."
"The wise community member asks, 'How can we, as individuals, and a community, address domestic violence?'"
After only two hours of sleep, I woke up on Aug. 13, 2000, to the sounds of drizzle hitting my hotel window. With a pit in my stomach, I got out of bed -- terrified and excited all at once. It was my wedding day, the culmination of three months of harried planning. I desperately wanted everything about this day to be perfect, to reflect the perfect love that Brad and I shared.
There's a Hawaiian legend about a pregnant woman who developed a craving for the eyeballs of royalty. Advisers to the king took this to mean that the woman's child would one day grow up to defeat the king and rule all the islands. The king decreed that the baby be killed as soon as it was born. So the woman had her newborn boy spirited away and hidden from the king.
The boy became King Kamehameha, who indeed conquered the islands of Hawaii.
I read this Moses-like story one night, sitting on the balcony of our room at the Maui Prince Hotel.
There is a new High Holiday book on my shelf that I have been avoiding assiduously, if only for the exalted title: "This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared." Rabbi Alan Lew's book, subtitled, "The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation," reminds me that the summer is ending, and the time has come to prepare for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
Natan Koenig was blotting up blood from the floor of the cafeteria named for Frank Sinatra at Jerusalem's Hebrew University. Koenig worked for two hours on that 95-degree afternoon on July 31, arriving soon after a Hamas-made bomb exploded under a table, killing nine people, including two Americans, wounding some 90 others and shattering the lunchroom.
For many teens, having a bar or bat mitzvah is both a beginning and an ending. According to Jewish tradition, the ceremony signifies a child's transition into manhood or womanhood. For some teens, it also marks the end of a structured Jewish education. Some kids dread Hebrew school and deem this coming-of-age ceremony their educational swan song. On the other hand, some parents see the bar or bat mitzvah as a means to an end, leaving teens to discover where Judaism fits into their lives on their own.
No, Jeremy, you cannot wear 'liberty spikes' to your bar mitzvah party," I say, referring to the hair-style that transforms my son's head into the Statue of Liberty's crown.
"Mom, you don't understand," he says. "Even when I'm 50, I'll be spiking my hair."
If food really is a cipher, unusual tales are spilling from menus devised for a two-part Jewish holiday cooking class this month at Laguna Culinary Arts.
They're celebrating the fourth night of Chanukah at the Chai Teen and Youth Center, and, to put it mildly, this joint is jumping.