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Our Lives

Only G-d (and Chabad) Could Have Pulled This One Off
My life was coming unglued. The health of my then 15-year-old daughter was degrading at a brutal pace and the future seemed filled with darkness.
An Empty Place at Our Table
The impact of Shimon Vishnepolsky
Shake it Up!
Reflections on the East Coast Earthquake
I don't know about you but I definitely could use a little shaking up. Because when things stay in one place for too long they get boring, they get old....
You Think You’re Busy?
Rabbi, I appreciate your invitation to join your classes, but I just don’t have time in my life for spirituality right now . . .
The Power of a Good Deed
Forty-Five Years Later
The kind deed he had done was able to reach him forty-five years later, and breathe a renewed enthusiasm in him to enjoy his activities of daily living . . .
Planting a Message
Inge’s Daffodils
The daffodils that were planted in the hard-packed dirt at the base of the palm tree, those that are trampled on year after year, continue to break through the hard soil and proudly sprout their yellow blooms . . .
A Special Life
Igniting a Spark
The blessing in the broken-down car
Suddenly, to their surprise a car pulled over and a very Aryan looking man got out, walked over to them and asked if he could help...
A Moving Story
I need to throw out more stuff. Tug of heartstrings. What if my children want to see my doodles from Grade Eight? More importantly, what if I want to see their doodles from age two? There are no easy answers...
Under the Sea
If we would only slow down and pay attention to the beauty that surrounds us. We are called human beings, not human doings. We tend to value ourselves and others by how much we achieve, how many items we can check off our “to do” list, how much we can amass. If we would only slow down and fill each day with a few human “being” moments . . .
Remembering my Father
“Don’t say that,” our father said, shaking his forefinger. “Mr. Malamud is all alone in the world. His children, his family, everyone went before him. It’s a curse I don’t wish on no one.”
A Duck and a Duty
Do these people deserve my money? Since when does cash drift gently from leafy poplars? Even my pastry was a momentary weakness. As these uncharitable thoughts flash through my system, I suddenly recall my mallards . . .
Choosing Her Final Resting Place
“Mummy. We love you and we’re trying to understand what you want. Once again, arrangements have been made for you to go back to England. But we don’t think that’s what you want . . .”
A Grave Mistake
We were very upset. Our mother had reserved that plot at the time of our father’s death, and had constantly reminded us that this was where she wanted to be buried—no matter where she was when she died. We felt terrible. We had failed her. But what could we do—it was out of our hands...
Weave a Tapestry of Experiences
The fibers of living are inevitably spun of truth and lies, generosity and greed, sharing and possessing, love and hate, joy and despair, dignity and shame, courage and fear, humility and ego, desire and denial, clarity and confusion...
My Glass
It is the timeless question. Is the glass half full, or is it just half empty. Do the bad times define a person, or just how we we handle them?
Welcome Tzemach!
Musings of a Newly Minted Grandfather
Tzemach has transformed us all. Our firstborn son just became a father. That upgrades us, his parents, into grandparents, our children into uncles and aunt, my siblings into great uncles and great aunt, my parents into great grandparents...
Stuffed with Love
My four-year-old son, not to be outdone, offered to collect stuffed animals at his nursery school. Soon, the animals were arriving at all hours and without notice. With each delivery, my daughter beamed...
Confessions of a Lazy Millionaire
People can organize their budgets any way they want, but I personally ascribe to the accounting theory that a penny saved is a penny earned. Obviously a return counts as profit, but so does a purchase never made.
Havoc on the I-55
A woman jumped out of her car into the rain and snow. The wind attacked her hair mercilessly. "Do you need help?" She yelled. "YES," I shrieked back...
My Wife, the Cat & the Mouse
Proverbial mice are even more ubiquitous than the physical furry variety. Distasteful intruders that scurry into our lives, leaving behind even more distasteful "droppings" and effects.
My Ninety Five Year Old Classmate
I understand why she has shown little interest in learning my name, or even looking me in the eye. When you're ninety-five, "honey" will do for just about anyone. She calls the teacher "honey" too. Nothing personal.
Ramblings of a New Dad
Musings of a new dad four times over
Take a moment to think about how many things had to go right for nothing to be wrong with our baby!
Eleventh Hour
Engulfed in aches, submerged in inertia, I've forgotten who I was. I see myself as a huge lump on a couch. Incapable of much else, I begin to think...
Bitachon: Reflections on Trust
She falls backwards, landing hard. She struggles to regain her composure. A soft sob escapes her mouth. She looks up at me. Waiting for me
Baby Talk
I know that I am her mother and know far better than she what's good and what's bad for her. But whether or not her limited view of reality is a valid one, is irrelevant: to her, her pain is real
A Different Kind of Spirituality
As I mouth the words, my leg moves back and forth, rocking my newborn's carriage. One forefinger is pointing in my daughter's siddur, while my other arm worms its way through my young son's snack bag. You call this praying?
Morning Blessings: His Version and Mine
I've noticed recently that my husband is taking a few minutes longer with his morning blessings. Have the words taken on a deeper significance to him as he recites, "Thank You, G-d, for not making me a woman"?
United We Stand
They were coming. Tens of thousands of them, all ages and nationalities, a spectacular ocean of humanity flowing through the gates of the Old City...
"Jay," my friend wrote in his e-mail, "I don’t think you should go to shul and ask G-d for forgiveness. This Yom Kippur you should stay home, and G-d should beg you to forgive Him for what He's done to you"
The View from Above
Suddenly, I felt a violent blow strike my head. An eighteen foot wooden beam, plunging from the scaffold atop the five story-structure, hit me and sailed into the street as if thrown by a catapult
From One World to the Next
She was so beautiful as she lay there on her back, perfectly still. I cradled her head in my arms as we washed her face. Her skin was smooth and her limbs remarkably flexible . . .
Reality Check
Consistently, the process repeated itself, until I resigned myself to the fact that my huge southern-facing window would remain empty of growing things. Then my mother gave me the cactus...
It’s stronger than you, buddy. You have to know that. It’s stronger and when it can’t burst out of your chest or squeeze through the spaces of your rib cage or rip your heart into little pieces, it finds another route...
Dance of Love
There was an undercurrent of raw emotion in the large room. Entranced, I watched the circle of dancers and the smiling onlookers who clapped along.
Losing Blood
It seems to me that in such times we glimpse what it means to do more than simply live, and to truly never die
On Inspiration
This past Monday morning I awoke, like every day, except that on this morning I was uninspired...
It's In Your Hands
I wanted to create something beautiful, something perfect, and now it was ruined. But I neglected to consider one important question: Whose party is this, anyway?
Stormy Winds
Occasionally, we open the unused drawers in the back of my youngest son's closet to look at these relics from a distant past...
Frame of Mind
I tried to maintain a stoic expression as I left my doctor's office. Only later that night, in the darkness of my children's bedroom, did I allow myself to consider the darkest, harshest possibilities
Shutters and Blinds
What does light give? The details. The color and texture. The fullness and the goodness. It balances the shadows and fills in the outlines, so that the remaining darkness only adds contrast, complexity, beauty and interest to my world.
Shadows in the Daytime
The other night after tucking him in at bedtime, my youngest child called to me from his darkened bedroom. He was frightened
The Good Life of the Everyday
During those terrible first days of the war, I felt in danger of losing everything. But did I have anything to lose? Is it enough merely to survive?
Last Chapters
I said yes immediately, afraid that if I thought about it first, I would lose the courage. The idea of sharing an entire night with someone straddling two worlds seemed awesome to me.
Be Free
Nuts, Raisins and Self Deception
The older I get the more apparent my lies have become. I barely believe myself anymore, especially when I make grand statements like, "I’ll never do or say that again." Too often the future robs me of my honesty
I think to myself: What is it that will make me feel proud and satisfied? What do I want to have accomplished with my children?
The Benefits of Being Stupid When You're Old
There is one benefit in feeling stupid, at least when you’re old: compassion.
Uncle Irv
We don’t do anything. There's something in the atmosphere and experience that takes away the ability to concentrate or focus. One’s greatest desire is simply to not be there, to not be doing this, and to have it be over with as quickly as possible . . .
Bread, Guilt and Grace
I know that all are not sustained and nourished here, where I furtively eat behind closed doors. So I expiate my guilt by prayer, and this leads to a new kind of haunting uneasiness
The Bus Ride
I try to stop the thought-process I know is coming, but it happens anyway. Should I sit in the front or the back? Definitely not the middle. Usually a bomber tries to get to the middle....
Remember Me Forever
I look at these pictures again and again. Some are already discolored, some withered with age. The victims are mainly in their early 20's.
Hidden Fruit
As I mouth the words, I feel every fiber of my being rebelling. He has not made His world lacking? Not lacking in anything?
Kosher Marks
My daughter was hoping that I'd detect some excuse in the fine print on the wrapper, but I found no visible certification. "I'm sorry, Sarah," I said, handing it back to her after a careful search. "I just don't see any kosher mark."
Gefilte Fish in Heaven
Every time I sit down to my simple meal of baked potato, undercooked vegetables and overly seasoned steak, I sense my mother's disapproving presence...
The Binding Contract
He told me that I hadn't come to Las Vegas to sell playpens...
The Day It Snowed in Maui
For the record snow is nice, once in awhile
Circle of Love
Sometimes love is not measured by a capacity to give, but rather by a capacity to receive...
Too Late
Smelling like a freshly baked streusel cake, she got down on her knees and hugged me close.
Stones in the Cemetery
All the time I thought I was bringing news to my father -- when he was actually giving me a hint about the happy news that awaited me at home.
Home Where He Belongs
At the time the best place for him was a Jewish assisted-living facility, or so she thought. It soon became clear he belonged home with her...
Helping Bubba Recreate Her Home
She was about to move into an assisted living apartment. It was not something she was looking forward to. We knew that we had persuaded her to make the move . . .
Summertime Solidarity
Well, maybe I am too old for camp, but whenever I think of a certain special summer of my childhood, I’m suddenly a kid again . . .
Yellow Jerrycans and War
The jerrycans have been under the table since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 . . .
Why I Walked a Mile in a Blizzard
Before I managed to take the next confident step, I slipped down the snowy hill.
A Jar Full of Buttons
And a mother full of love
What 4 Deaths in 4 Days Taught Me About Life
I was standing at a deathbed in silence together with the family as their patriarch slowly moved on to a better place.
Yes, My Name Is Karen
I'm a Jew who happens to be named Karen, not a Karen who happens to be a Jew. And if there's one thing a Jew is not supposed to be, it's a person who fits the negative stereotype of a "Karen". That's about as un-Jewish as you can get.