It's been 30 years since I left Iran, and I still know I'm going back some day, because I have to see that house again, to stand before the yard door and discover if it's indeed 12 feet high, or if I've imagined it so, to ring the doorbell and see if I can hear its chime echo up and down the street.
She learned that her building was expanding its bike room and had cleaned out an area where these trunks, whose owners had moved on, had sat unopened for decades. Amid the chaos, a building porter told her that he had found a young girl's diary and gave her the small book with its crackling leather cover and chrome lock.
On the eve of Passover 1948, Rabbi Moshe Saks, known as Bud to his family and friends, was stationed in Jerusalem's Talpiot neighborhood, trying to figure out how to get Passover supplies and ammunition to the embattled Haganah soldiers in the Makor Haim neighborhood.
My poor handwriting quickly morphed into a sans serif, size-10 font and postage became obsolete. What had gone into my diary, I started blogging; what I used to hold inside, I'm e-mailing; and when I used to call to say "hi" and plan, I'm texting. Enter the almighty Smartphone and high-speed Internet and suddenly, I'm compelled to my QWERTY.
For some of us, a "problem" is getting seven presents for Chanukah, not eight. However, 70 years ago, these so-called "problems" would have been luxuries for the millions of Jews and other minorities living, and dying, during the Holocaust.
When I first started writing, I sat with Khanum for hours at a time, asking questions. I was 21 and on leave of absence from law school. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, but I knew some stories from Iran, and had begun to write them. They were scattered pieces of people's lives, bits of conversations I had overheard through the years, rumors that had been whispered too many times and taken on a reality that may or may not have been deserved.
Even today, Bresnick "listens to everything," and his own compositions have a uniquely American eclecticism.
When asked whether he is Jewish, Mark Troy responds, "You will be needing proof of that?"
Just one year ago, we had proudly taken our first family vacation in Israel. The places where my kids had the most fun -- Haifa, Nahariya, Rosh Hanikra, Safed, Kiryat Shemona -- were bearing the brunt of the Katyusha attacks.
I must admit that in countless trips to Europe, I had carefully avoided visiting Germany, having no desire whatsoever to see the Fatherland that had left me with such dark memories. But then came the summer of 2006, and as a football (soccer to you) devotee, I headed to Germany to cover the World Cup for a Southern California radio station.
They say that familiarity breeds contempt, but I'm thinking that when you meet so many strangers in so short a time, familiarity might just breed comfort. You see a guy's picture 20 times, you begin to feel you know him. Maybe the first time he wrote to you, you weren't sure about him -- maybe he even creeped you out -- but a year or two later he practically seems like family (possibly that family member you want to avoid, but family nonetheless).
In Los Angeles, as in other American cities where Jews have moved out en masse from their old neighborhoods, they not only left dwellings behind, they also left behind synagogues, social centers, stores and street corners that connected them to a certain time in their lives and to a particular era in their collective past.
Almost from the time she was born in 1941 in Milhars, Kaufman had to be invisible, she recounted. Her parents had come from Poland, where they had suffered under Nazi oppression.
Tante Mina sat on her couch and slowly tore away the wrapping. When the paper fell and she saw the porcelain doll her nieces had molded, painted and dressed for her, her breath caught in her throat and she let out a little gasp. As Tante Mina continued to stare at the doll, Mali, my mother, told her 81-year-old aunt about the next step.
"David Karp made it possible for us to have this program," said attorney Yacov Greiff, scoutmaster of Troop 613 at Shaarey Zedek. "Aside from personal kindness and modesty, exemplary menschlichkeit and tireless efforts on behalf of the Jewish community, he deserves particular recognition for going out of his way to reach across sectarian lines."
Spain's Toledo contains -- along with spires, damascene jewelry and scrumptious marzipan -- a treasure trove of Jewish memories.
One thing that pleases Harmatz about being the grand marshal is riding in a convertible. In fact, last year when it rained on the parade, someone suggested they put up the top, but Harmatz wanted it left down.
Authors Roger Bennett, Jules Shell and Nick Kroll discovered in one long B.S. session that nothing quite engaged their friends, Jew and non-Jew alike, as a trip back down memory lane to the day of their or their friends' bar or bat mitzvah.
Moving from a familiar home and letting go of things owned for years can feel like an additional loss. It's not just the loss of the objects that has an impact; it's the connection with the past that these objects symbolize.
The hope of the organizers is that the games foster a sense of Jewish unity, awareness and pride among the athletes from around the world. In that spirit, this year's games were the first to feature delegations from China, Macedonia and Grenada.
Reconnecting long-lost family often begins with a relative's random comment during a holiday gathering as generations gather around a dinner table.
In our family, Shabbat is always a potluck.
To capture flat Valley spaces that retain old West emptiness, Jacobson decided to shoot the movie in anamorphic widescreen. But while scouting locations, he discovered the kind of childhood scenarios he remembered had moved to the North Valley.
Masterfully, Krauss ties together the stories of Gursky and the young Alma as each searches for clues about "The History of Love."
"What I wanted was music that touches people's souls and hearts in many different ways in their time of need," Len Lawrence said.
For Israeli Shifra Fyne, 83, this week’s journey to Los Angeles will be her first time leaving Israel in 56 years, and her first trip ever on an airplane.
Yehuda Goldstein is making the same trip. He hopes to reconnect with John Gordon, an L.A. resident he met last year in Israel. They think they grew up in the same pre-World War II neighborhood in Budapest.
Passover is a time for families to gather, to enjoy each other's company and to recall the story of our shared ancient history.
It is also the perfect time to preserve your family's greatest treasure: the memories and stories of your own family elders.
I confess that most of my childhood Passover memories have nothing to do with the Passover story itself. How could they when seders were family dramas enacted against a backdrop of matzah and gefilte fish? Like most American Jewish kids, I started out observing the proceedings from a card table, fidgeting while the grown-ups read from the haggadah.
Rita Lakin's new musical, "Saturday Night at Grossinger's," fetes the businesswoman behind the food and the entertainment, Jennie Grossinger (1882-1972).
Growing up, I always stood out as a Jew in my predominantly WASP community.
You cannot spend time and energy wondering where the years went. They are finished.
Seniors must concentrate on now. Enjoy life now. Do what you can within your abilities. Life is precious and good. Tomorrow will come at its own speed.
I woke up Christmas Day morning with no tree, toys or eggnog, and I understood how Jewish children could feel left out on Christmas mornings as non-Jewish neighbor kids ride new bikes and try out other presents. Like Jewish kids, I had no gifts that morning.
Neil Sedaka has had a noteworthy place in American music for four decades; he became a comfortable perennial who did not let himself turn into a tortured titan like Sinatra or a forgettable one-hit wonder like The Imperials, Haircut 100 or Luscious Jackson.
The paucity of Jews serving on front lines may explain the dwindling numbers of members belonging to Jewish war veteran organizations.
The 3-by-5 file cards are yellowed with age, carefully covered in Saran Wrap and taped in the back.
As long as I focused on the task at hand, the time went by. Deciding on what was going to the auction house vs. what to charity, tossing out a bag of shoes that no one would take.
Ah, the High Holidays. The mere words conjure up memories of long services, uncomfortable clothing, endless Hebrew passages, Mom and Dad dozing off, semi-fasting against my will, and, most of all, not quite taking in what the holidays were all about. What can I say? I was a kid.
Tony Eprile opens up the complex terrain of a changing South Africa in "The Persistence of Memory."
This is an ambitious novel, a novel of many ideas. Eprile is a gifted storyteller who delves into the inner life and family, and also politics, social commentary and warfare. The literary thread that links these different kinds of stories -- whether accounts of sensual meals, embarrassing school episodes or brutal battles -- and propels the narrative is suggested by the title: the way that memory, the act of remembering, shapes life and history.
When the date was set, everything came into focus. He really will become a bar mitzvah. How exciting the whole year became. Bobby knew his prayers and haftarah very well. No one was concerned about that. He began to work on his sermon and master that, too.
Block's father owned the lithograph collection, because he was a childhood friend of Abraham Rattner's publisher, New York art dealer Bill Haber.
"It was very helpful to have a rabbi help us grieve and to understand what we were going through, because she has that feeling toward pets," said Vicky Goodman, who with her husband Chip raised Maggie with their two daughters.
A few months ago I flew from Long Beach to Brooklyn. It was a long, sad and lonely trip. A few days earlier, my mother had turned 82 years old and was looking forward to a special birthday, when tragedy struck. A fire broke out in her home. Quickly, her life was taken by fire and smoke. No goodbyes or time to prepare for closure, just a cruel death.
My father survived the fire but lives daily with his memories. He now spends his time living a day or a week with different children and grandchildren. He recently came to California to join our family for the holidays. Even though the children and grandchildren were here something big was missing. Yes, our dear mother, the grandmother, was missed.
They told us that we would move through various stages of grief, but they were wrong.
The Reagan Revolution that gave the late president unprecedented national Jewish support had strong roots among Southern California's Jewish philanthropists and political strategists.
"The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage," edited by Loolwa Khazzoom (Seal Press, $16.95)
On the last night before her family would flee Libya in 1967, Gina Bublil Waldman recalls that she had to choose between taking her only warm sweater or a photo album with the words "Souvenir of Libya" on the cover. Its hand-painted image of a peaceful seascape was in absolute contrast to the political turbulence and danger her family faced. She packed the photos, remnants of a life she wouldn't know again.
Her essay is included in a compelling collection, "The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage," edited by Loolwa Khazzoom.
In the documentary, "Moving Heaven and Earth," an American Jew describes spying an African, Gershom Sizomu, amid the white expatriates in a Nairobi synagogue in the 1990s."
Some people like their Passover seders just as they remember them: the same lines recited by the same relatives with the same emphasis, the same songs, jokes and foods, the same delicate glassware that picks up the light in a certain way, reflecting past and present.
Monty Hall spent 27 years making outrageous deals with anxious contestants on his TV game show, "Let's Make a Deal." But the sweetest deal he ever made with his mishpachah was for a plate of pickled herring if they'd join him for Passover seder.
At a time when the world shunned them, an estimated 20,000 Jewish refugees from Russia, Germany, Austria and elsewhere made their way to Shanghai before World War II.
A mentor to many, Jerry Ringerman left his handprint on California's education, music, camping, environment and Jewish life.
Reading "A Fistful of Lentils" is like wandering through a family album. Instead of food photos you find dozens of family portraits, touching stories and the fascinating history of a rich and unique culture.
The "Encyclopedia of Jewish Humor" includes 14 pages of jokes on death, so when Buddy Hackett passed away in Malibu at 78 on June 30, the chapel at Hillside Memorial Park was packed with every comedy icon that hadn't booked an out-of-town Fourth of July gig.
For The Kids
I'm sitting at a Mobil station in Minneola, my feet propped up against the bottom frame of my car door. The door is swung open so I can take in the desert air, exhale my Camel Light into the breeze.
If Pesach signals the emergence of spring, with Shavuot, the season bursts forth in a riot of color and luscious flavors. "Kosher by Design" by Susie Fishbein, captures the beauty of every holiday with a feast for the eye as well as the palate.
In his new book, pop songwriter Seth Swirsky pays tribute to the sport that has played such an important part in his life.