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WJW’s ONLINE HOME FOR PERSONAL ESSAYS, TRAVELOGUES, REFLECTIONS AND RUMINATIONS.
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We crushed the Nazi movement in America in the 30’s and we will do it again! (8/30/2017) - The horrific events that passed  in Charlottesville, Virginia should be a stark reminder to Americans that although the fires of Nazism were contained in the 1940’s, the spark was never fully extinguished.  As we see the rise of Nazism in America today, it is important to look back at how our predecessors dealt with this... Read More
What Charlottesville can teach us about racial justice Perspectives from a Jew of color (8/30/2017) - These past weeks, many in our country have mourned, and felt enraged, over the overt racist sentiments, behaviors, rhetoric, and antisemitism of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. We all watched in horror as this racist movement marched through the streets of this quaint town donning the symbolic robes of the Ku Klux Khan; a symbol... Read More
Magen Davids in Latvia (5/8/2017) - How would you feel if you stopped at an end-of-year fair to buy some handmade souvenirs and saw a decorated Xmas-tree surrounded by children with decorated Stars of David in their hands? Most likely, a feeling of disgust would prick your heart, while your brain came up with some justification: Chanukah and the New Year... Read More
A Canadian view of the refugee crisis (3/15/2017) - Like all Canadians, I am fascinated and horrified by the news of desperate refugees seeking asylum in Canada. It boggles my mind. I am transfixed. These stories are too close to my heart.  Over thirty years ago I came to Canada as a young refugee, but to get here I had to first walk over... Read More
Welcoming refugees: a moral imperative (3/14/2017) - In his newly-revised, controversial executive order, President Trump suspended significant parts of the United States refugee program for 120 days and also decreased the number of refugees allowed into our country by 50%. It blocks the entry of people who are suffering greatly and are fleeing their country because of persecution. I feel personally connected to... Read More
Charlene Sorkine: Unknown hero of the French resistance (3/1/2017) - In Nice, France, during World War II, Charlotte Sorkine as a teenager conveyed groups of children to the Swiss border to be rescued. Under Maurice Loebenberg, a member of the French Resistance and former engraver, she created thousands of false papers. It is estimated that some 20,000 identity cards were produced, saving many lives. Among... Read More
Stitch us back together (2/15/2017) - Lost sleep Strife in families Ignoring and unfriending friends in real life and on Facebook Screaming matches Post-traumatic stress These are only a few of the consequences that our polarized country and American Jewish community have dealt with through the course of a long, contentious presidential campaign culminating in the election of Donald Trump. Jewish... Read More
Letter from my niece — sort of (12/14/2016) - Dearest Auntie  Carole, Hey there. We will be flying in for your and my birthdays next week  and I can’t wait to see you. However, I wanted to write this ahead of time  so you can think about  the reason I am writing  before you see me. I know you are a psychotherapist (did I... Read More
One of the greatest masterpieces of opera Review (10/14/2016) - Le Nozze Di Figaro Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte Le Nozze Di Figaro, one of the greatest operas, has been performed by every opera house spanning over two hundred and thirty years, and is a standard work for training singers, directors, conductors and designers.  Its familiarity can be problematic, yet... Read More
The Purim that Disney ‘pledged’ $300,000 to my congregation (8/17/2016) - As many in the Washington area may recall, in the fall of 1993 the Walt Disney Company announced plans to build a new theme park in Prince William County highlighting United States history.  At the time, I served as rabbi of the county’s only Jewish Congregation Ner Shalom. When Purim approached early the next year,... Read More
New rabbi in Capitol Hill neighborhood fills a gap we didn’t realize existed (8/11/2016) - Leaps of faith can be frightening. Particularly when they are actually about faith, in this case welcoming the first rabbi to Capitol Hill in decades. But that’s the situation we faced as leaders of an unaffiliated group of Jews who first started gathering for services in Capitol Hill living rooms around the turn of the... Read More
Elie Wiesel, the boy from Taverny (7/14/2016) - Some fifty years have passed since that memorable evening when, as a participating author, I was invited to attend a private reception to honor the Keynote speaker at a Florida Book Event. Could the man, who was to address us, have been one of the youngsters in my charge when as a volunteer social worker... Read More
Each stitch of the basket (6/9/2016) - The following is Sam Slater’s graduation speech at Shoresh Hebrew High School in Rockville. The graduation was June 5. My shoreshim in Shoresh are very deep and something of which I am very proud. I am the fourth Slater to graduate from Shoresh and I still remember my first Shoresh class – I was in... Read More
‘A comfortable place to learn and grow’ (6/9/2016) - The following is Jessica Kaplan’s graduation speech at Shoresh Hebrew High School in Rockville. The graduation was June 5. As a freshman switching to Public School, after being at a Jewish Day School my entire life, going to Shoresh was not a question of debate, nor was it unfamiliar or uncomfortable. With in my first... Read More
Shoresh: A Way to Teen Engagement (5/25/2016) - David Bryfman’s May 12 article (“Jewish Teenagers want to engage. Just ask them”) rightly points out the critical importance of engaging post-b’nai mitzvah teens in Jewish programs of substance.  We at Shoresh Hebrew High School could not agree more.  Since 1999, Shoresh has developed a successful model of text-based Jewish study for students who attend... Read More
A Bond with Israel and the Washington Jewish community (5/20/2016) - Sixty-five years ago, David Ben-Gurion visited our community.  The modern State of Israel was three years young and its first Prime Minister was on a three week tour of the United States for official business and to launch the Israel Bonds program – an initiative that has raised nearly $40 billion in direct investment into... Read More
Celia Finkel (5/6/2016) - We called her “Mommom” I explained, because she felt too youthful to be called something “grandmotherly”.  Most of our friends and the neighborhood children called her “Mommom” too, and she played that role as well for many of the hosts for whom she prepared beautiful affairs. During the shiva, visitors commented that many people do... Read More
Erased identities, erased memories, an erased people (5/5/2016) - As I was growing up, I was told by my parents that I was named for my father’s sister, Sarah Newberger, who had been killed in Auschwitz. I knew very little about her, except that she was the oldest of 5 children, was beautiful and married to a very wealthy man who did not want... Read More
Heroic efforts to preserve the Yiddish language in Israel (3/23/2016) - Did you know that there is a little-known group of intellectuals who labor to keep alive “Mameloshn“,  the tongue of their Yiddish-speaking ancestors? To find it, just go to Tel Aviv and look for the Leyvik House. Since 1970 Leyvik House serves as home to the Association of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Israel and to the... Read More
The Great Tu B’shevat Blizzard of 2016 (1/27/2016) - Jews pray for geshem – rain, and for tal – dew, for Israel… each in its season.  Jews do not pray for sheleg – snow…ever… and certainly not on Tu B’shevat. And SNOW, weather prayed for or not, came to Tu B’shevat this year in the guise of Winter Storm Jonas. Frenzied storm preparations, blizzard... Read More