Tree Hugger’s Holiday

December 30, 2021

While we’re celebrating the secular new year this weekend, we welcome the new month of Shevat in the Jewish calendar on Monday, January 3rd. This is the month in which we celebrate the new year of the trees, Tu B’Shevat. Growing up in the northeast, we celebrated this holiday in the middle of winter by singing songs about the almond trees blooming in Israel and eating almonds, dried figs and bokser, chewy carob pods that tasted like damp tree bark. I didn’t appreciate this holiday’s connection to the natural environment until I was older. We learn in the Talmud that this is the perfect time … Read more

Six Months Later

December 24, 2021

In early June, I began to consider abandoning my Reading Challenge goal of reading 54 books in 2021. My mind was consumed by COVID concerns and too distracted to read an entire book for pleasure. Other than reading to prepare for classes and book club, I mostly leafed through magazines during the first 6 months of the year. Then, inspired by an email from Fulton County Library System notifying me that my library card had expired and inviting me to come into the local branch to renew my account, I doubled down on my commitment to complete the challenge. I was 43% of the way … Read more

Remembering Rabbi Gillman

December 17, 2021

I was surprised to see in my Facebook memories that it has been more than four years since my teacher Rabbi Neil Gillman z”l died, and four years since I wrote about his influence on me as a teacher for the Rabbis Without Borders blog. I guess my sense of the passage of time has been distorted, not only by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but also by the subsequent passing of several other influential teachers and mentors during these years. Reading my post  from December 2017, I’m struck by how I could have written these same words last week: “There is no way to know … Read more

It Sounds Better in Yiddish

December 10, 2021

Last week I didn’t post anything. Here’s why: I asked my younger daughter, who was celebrating her birthday, if I could write about her. She’s an adult, so I wanted to get her permission, and she gave it. However, when I told her I was proud of her accomplishments, she stumped me by saying, “You’re proud that I’m a year older?”  I realize now that I misspoke. It’s not pride, but nakhes, which translates to pleasure or satisfaction. I’m so pleased that she is an independent, kind, resilient and smart adult. This week she completed her coursework for her B.A. in English Literature with a … Read more

Oh, Henry!

November 25, 2021

My spouse recently pointed out to me that, although my blog is advertised as “Reflections about my life, and about the dogs and humans that I love,” I haven’t written about the dog who is currently my favorite canine companion. This kvetch contains a partial truth: I haven’t written a blog post about Henry. However, I’ve definitely posted about Henry on Facebook. According to my count, there are 121 photos of Henry on my phone, and I’m fairly certain I’ve shared more than half of them since October 13, 2020. So I thought I’d write about Henry today, on Thanksgiving, and express my gratitude to … Read more

The Latest News

November 19, 2021

This week, while concentrating on creative writing and editorial responsibilities, I decided it was time to send out a long-overdue newsletter. If you haven’t already subscribed to my quarterly newsletter, From My Writer’s Notebook, please visit the home page, scroll down and subscribe. It’s as easy as clicking a button! In other news, my post from October 29th about the resettlement of Afghan families in Metro ATL, “Welcome Home,” was shared on the Rabbis Without Borders blog yesterday. Be sure to stop by My Jewish Learning to read it, along with other interesting articles on the many partner blogs that are hosted at My Jewish … Read more

Homecoming

November 12, 2021

“Home is where the heart is.” —Pliny the Elder  “If you go anywhere, even paradise, you will miss your home.” —Malala Yousafzai My spouse and I recently began our 23rd year of living in Metro Atlanta. As we’re now empty nesters and beginning to think about where we might move when he retires, I’ve been feeling a tug toward New York. I’m also feeling guilty for thinking about leaving, because this is my home now. When I recall how homesick I was in the early 2000s, I feel sorry for my younger self.  In those days, when we’d take the kids to Turner Field, I’d … Read more

Welcome Home

October 29, 2021

The local chapter of National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is preparing welcome baskets for Afghan families about to arrive in Metro Atlanta. Because this organization has a long history and strong commitment to the resettlement of immigrants, as well as a true desire for a deeper understanding of and sensitivity to their needs, NCJW engaged with the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (ISB) to provide volunteers with background information about Afghanistan and promote cultural sensitivity. I already knew a fair amount about Afghan history and geography and, having lived with an Afghan family in Israel 35 years ago, I was familiar with the resilience and … Read more

Anticipatory Grief

October 20, 2021

We rescued Luna in December 2013, about 8 weeks after our first dog died. Jenna, a Chocolate Lab we rescued in 2003, had slowed down in the late summer. She was 13 years old, and her decline was swift. When it was time to let her go, we knew it was time.  We agreed to wait a while—at least 6 months—to adopt another dog. I began searching rescue and shelter websites almost immediately. I really missed having a dog at home. Our eldest daughter was in her first semester of college, our younger daughter was in high school, and our son was in middle school. … Read more

Creating Peace

October 14, 2021

When I first joined Tiferet’s Spiritual Poetry Writing class in July 2020, I never expected to find a well-spring of creativity and a source of sustenance in an online community of writers, never imagined I would spend an entire year of Thursday afternoons on Zoom, connecting so deeply with strangers. The class is hosted and facilitated by Donna Baier Stein, an award-winning novelist, short story writer, and poet, founder of Tiferet Journal and a gifted teacher. Donna selects poems from a range of religious and spiritual traditions. She reads the first poem aloud, suggests a writing prompt to us, instructs us we’re free to choose … Read more