Our Lives

How I Ended Up Marrying My Childhood Friend
Right away, I knew I had to go out with Avigdor, if only to meet him again.
The ‘Needless’ Pidyon Haben
I found it very moving to be present at this quite rare ceremony for only the second time in my life.
Losing (and Finding) an iPhone in New York City
When you think positively, good things happen!
A Yearbook Tagline From 60 Years Ago Still Hurts
I don’t even remember their names any more, but I will never forget what they wrote.
The Courage to Identify as a Jew on Campus
The Jewish star was my signal to G‑d, to myself and to others that I believed and trusted in G‑d, as a Jew.
Lightening the Load: How a Household Chore Became More Inspiring
How did I make my family feel good, feel special, feel singularly loved by me, I thought?
Ordinary Kids Doing Extraordinary Things
It provides me with strength and happiness that the future will be bright because our children are making the world a better place.
Fasting on Tisha B’Av in Wimbledon
“You sure do pick your moments to make a point, dear. Is fasting on Yom Kippur not good enough for you?”
Finding Gratitude Even During a Frustratingly Long Wait at My Doctor’s Office
There had been a glitch in the computer system and appointments had been double-booked. In short, it was a mess, and the wait would be very long.
The Lost Wallet and My Return to the Jewish People
It took many years of detours until I found my destination.
My Identity Is Forever Found in Translation
My story is not simple. To Russians, I am an American. To Americans, I am a Russian. To Jews who were observant from birth, I am a baal teshuva, a “returnee” to the faith. To my non-observant friends, I seem extremely religious and committed to Judaism.
A Journey Back in Time: Visiting the Graves of the Righteous in Ukraine
Time has passed, and so much has happened since I was a child in Soviet Russia, yet I feel an undeniable connection to this land where so many righteous tzadikim are buried.
Homeless Man + Me + Psalms = Hospital Room on Fire
A wiry man with a neatly trimmed graying beard, Sam was pacing back and forth in the small hospital room when I knocked. He greeted my, “Hi, I’m Chaplain Miriam” with friendly intensity and dove right into his story, his challenges.
The Stranger Who Saved Me From Fainting on the Subway
“I think I am going to faint,” I say nervously to no one in particular.
The Law of the Shopping Bag
How many bags would I actually need? What if I said one number and really needed more? Now that each bag cost money, could I get by with fewer bags than usual?
The Sigh That Breaks the Human’s Back
Who else comes to a massage therapist except women with tense backs?
Looking Back, Digging Deeper and Finding the Silver Lining
One part of me lives as though something scary is just waiting to whip its head out from around the corner up ahead. Another part of me sees life from a bird’s-eye view, and knows that although things were frightening, they worked out, and I was in fact being guided to a more beautiful place.
Just What the Doctor Ordered
As I sit in a specialist’s examining room, surrounded by high-tech equipment that is surely the latest word in medical care, my thoughts revert to a conversation I’ve recently had with a friend.
G-d's Gift-Wrapped Present
A sudden overwhelming urge for chocolate made my eyes snap open.
What I Do When My Mind Begins Concocting Worst-Case Scenarios
There are days when my brain is so fired up with worries of what-ifs and how-coulds that my fight-or-flight instincts take center stage, resulting in mental paralysis, emotional hyperactivity, and the never-ending feeling of swimming upstream while weighted down.
Why My Letters to the Rebbe Stopped
My parents divorced, and the only letters written were to judges and mediators; the only car trips were to downtown Chicago for court dates.
Good-bye, Abba
Who hears him cry? Does he know? He doesn't remember having daughters.
Getting Spiritual in the Cemetery
It was the perfect activity for one of those dreary Sunday afternoons in the summer: a visit to my father's grave.
My Special Sukkot Visitor
We decide to rent an apartment in Jerusalem over the High Holidays, to get a feel for what it will be like to actually live here. Maybe at the end of our holiday, we'll make the big decision which will impact the rest of our lives.
The Loftiest Tear
I am humbled by the sensitivity and compassion of my daughter. She is crying tears of sadness at the very thought of another human being hurt by an insult.
To Lose a Child
People say . . . time will heal. How can a broken heart ever be healed?
My Life Is a Boat Ride
G‑d put me on a boat and released the anchor, or so I feel. Truthfully though, G‑d holds on, and I must not forget that.
Jealous of the Dog
Was this the first time that my mother felt welcomed and greeted with sincere happiness? Can I ever remember, as a child, being excited as my mother walked in the door?
Baking Cookies
It’s a shame I didn’t take pictures of them. But I’ve got those pictures engraved in my head. And more importantly, my daughters do...
I obliterated the shadow of illness and defilement that had poisoned what I had held sacred. When I affixed the mezuzah to the doorpost of the den, I affirmed that what is created in this room, what is thought in this room, is free of lies and deception. Only truth is spoken here...
I Want to Write
I want to show my readers, in the wrenching three-dimensional visions of words, how things could turn around...
Who Am I?
What happened is that my soul, which has always been a Jew, woke up. But when it awoke it was empty, filled only with a yearning it didn’t understand . . .
Giving Back to its Owner
I am excited. My rabbi said relax. “Return the world to its Owner.” How profound...
I don’t live a Torah life. Until about six months ago I didn’t even live a Jewish life.
When You Wish Upon A Star
I immediately knew what part of town I was in . . . A little backwoods, hillbilly kind of place aptly named Christmas, Florida. Yes, Christmas. From the highway it seemed like a cheery little town, with twinkling lights up year round, but in reality it was far from being a merry locale...
Twenty Sheckels
When they told me my whole life depended on those coins and bills, I refused to believe. After all, I could not eat or drink them even when hunger gnawed at my edges. They were slippery and thin and could not shelter me from the wind. They seemed even lonelier than me but never said a word to breach the distances...
A Dream Come True, Almost
Everything about it seemed so strange. I tried to deny the vision. I tried to re-work it in my head, pick a place closer to home, resign myself to simply staying put, but the feeling kept nagging at me...
The Value of a Smile
They were jumping up and down with excitement. For them, a car is like a trip to Disneyland. I saw the car, but I didn't see the car. All I saw were the dents and the scratches. "This is the car?" I growled at him. My husband's face fell...
Reconnecting with My Best Friend
After Thirty-Eight Years
She asked me what happened. Why did we lose track of each other? I said in those days, with no email, she moved to Israel and I stayed behind. It was harder to work at staying in touch and just easier to let things drop and occasionally hear about her from mutual friends. Life moves on, the everyday routines take over, and slowly the relationship faded away...
Growing Up
Being a woman meant making my own choices. Well, here I am, making them. I attended the university of my choice. I studied the field of my choice. I eat the food of my choice in the apartment of my choice off of the dishes of my choice (paid for out of the wallet of my choice with the credit card of my choice). And yet, choices galore, as I sat staring at the red print before me, I still didn’t feel like a woman yet...
Learning a New Language
As we enter the classroom and take our seats, my heart beats a good bit faster. Anticipation is what they call it; lack of intestinal fortitude is my definition! Oh no! The teacher’s going to call on me next! What is she saying?
A Tale of True Friendship
No matter who we may call a friend, true friendship is reserved for those select few who impact every aspect of our lives - yesterday, today, and tomorrow...
The Photographer and Me
Some Thoughts on Why I Love Being a Mom
The last time I saw the photographer, about three hours later, I asked her something that I had been wanting to ask her since I had first witnessed her bleary-eyed at sunrise that morning. "Tell me something, are you enjoying this?"
Healing Comes in Layers
I was horrified at the thought of an open gaping hole, and could not imagine how it was going to heal and not get infected. In fact I obsessed about it and it took me a good few days before I could even look at it...
Knickknacks and Legacies
The sound of her voice, her thick accent that got thicker when she was in trouble or trying to get out of it, is quickly fading. And all I could have left is the gramophone, the art work, the silk scarves...
PhD In a Bathtub
My husband took the boys to the park; my daughter is watching the baby, who's sleeping on the patio—I am now free to do whatever I want for an hour or so! But am I?
The Power of Thank You
My Father's Final Words
Dad had gone through medical and spiritual hell and emerged to discover that some profound things had transpired during his anesthetized, comatose state. He had defied death and rebounded multiple times...
My Birthday Gift
I had walked in feeling like a failure and left feeling like I had purpose. Purpose. Without that, one can not survive...
The Spot
My Breast Cancer Scare
Dreading the Doctor
Eden's outrageous fright of doctors, doctors' offices, check-ups, medicine, band-aids, thermometers, blood, paper cuts and anything and everything else medical was so extreme that all of the doctors we took her to agreed that they had never seen a case as severe as hers...
A Smile
Nutrition for the Soul
My throat was scratchy, my head stuffy, all thanks to my co-worker who only uses sick days for when she feels great. I made a tea, grabbed a huge water bottle, the rest of the orange juice and tried to make it to my car...
My daughter is smart; she's going to go through first grade without any problems. High school will be a breeze; Harvard, here we come! She will be a lawyer, she will be a doctor, and she will be a famous artist in her spare time...
My Boring Day
A New Perspective on the New Month
I was stuck without a babysitter on what was supposed to be my big day out. Stuck, for yet another mundane day of shoveling sweet potatoes and mashed bananas into the mouths of my screaming offspring...
Don't Mourn For Me
People look at me and mourn the life I lead. But when I see myself, I do not see a victim. I see myself as strong, straight-backed and sure of step. I see my hair long and flowing. I hear the music which used to grace my fingertips...
Daddy, Where Am I From?
Daddy, where are you from? I prod gently, a brilliant mind that is quickly fading, being eaten by a disease called Alzheimer's. An amazing physician my father was, cutting into newborn's hearts to save them...
Two Operations
Was she also here to remove some part of her reproductive organs? I very much hoped not. She was young and single. She hadn't yet found her partner with whom she wanted to share a life with...
Skyscrapers of Lego
I have decided that the kitchen is going to be closed today, the chef is off duty. No fancy dinners; it will be macaroni and cheese. Today I am going to enjoy my children...
Unclogging the Proverbial Sink
Pound by pound, ounce by ounce we can lose the extra weight. Payment by payment and one less purchase added to one less purchase, we can pay back the credit card debt...
The Magic of Cholent
The cholent request was, at first glance, innocent padding at the end of the message, yet somehow it seemed hesitant and cautious...
Destiny Calling
Several years ago, as my mother was fading, she left me with the feeling that it was now my responsibility to keep in touch with "the cousins."
Kvetch and Stitch
My knitting helped me through those long hours of waiting and watching. It was a lot better than snacking my way through his recovery. Today, he is, thank G‑d, healthy but I continue to knit...
Open Your Mouth
They turn to me clueless and ask, "What did he say?" I translate. We're all speaking the same language, but only I can decipher what he is saying...
My Child
My tears mingle with his as he protests his entry into this world. I hold him tight and softly stroke his tiny body trying to infuse him with my love...
The Child Inside
Yonatan made me miss the child I once was. I never got to say goodbye. Who dared to steal my youth and why did I not protest?
Promise Me You'll Remember
Daddy, where are the roadsigns on this journey? How far can I take you before memory dead-ends?
Canoeing With My Daughter
Helplessly safe in eddies below, I watch her charge toward swirls of foam and rock She’s going to hit, I think, and I can’t do anything but watch...
Therapy in a Box
I gave birth about eight weeks ago and this is the first time since then that I've had the opportunity to sit down unencumbered and type my soul into this ever-patient and forgiving box of wires...
Be Where You Are
"What am I supposed to be doing with my days? I cannot go to shul. I cannot come to class. Shopping and other activities are difficult. OK, the hairdresser is a necessity." I surely was not going to spend them just thinking about all the things I would be able to do again, G-d willing, after the transplant.
Getting Even with the Shabbat Candles
Time was running out, but I thought I would give it another go. "Please, Sharon, you will feel better by adding some more light to your world..." Unfortunately, none of the arguments won her over...
Sacrificing Yourself for Your Son
A parent wants only good for their child and they want only good from their child. You become so engrossed in doing things for them, saving for them, working hard for them; and as you fantasize about the greatness that you want them to become, you begin to forget about yourself and the greatness that you need to work on becoming
We're Home
From the moment that we stepped off the EL AL plane and took our first steps on Israeli soil, we felt that we arrived home to new beginnings...
Ceremonial Challah
I pulled out the big purple cookbook that my teacher had lovingly given me when I set out for married life. I was working full time until I got married, traveling the world at conferences. I didn’t know how to cook...
Mah Tovu
Just as the sun rises new each day, I am rising from exactly nine months of grieving and trying to stand in my own tent. These were my first High Holidays in thirty six years without my husband, Marcel z"l, with whom I shared a tent...
Sometimes I take my son out of his carriage so that he can walk along the sidewalk with me. He stops along the way, every couple of steps or so, picking up things, showing me leaves and fallen flowers. If he didn’t point them out to me, I probably wouldn’t even notice that they were there.
Divine Providence at 30,000 Feet
I will have to sit with her until L.A. The girl swears in Spanish. Janet politely asks her to move her belongings. She complies, throwing her belongings on the floor...
The Staircase
I found myself at a turning point, at the bottom of the mountain, and I felt that I needed to go up. At times it was slowly, slowly taking one step at a time; other times I felt like running and leapt many steps at once.
An Impulsive Decision
I opened the door slowly and in a beautiful Yiddish he asked me to spare some money for a poor bride in Israel. My first instinct was to tell him honestly that my husband was not at home and I did not have any cash on me to spare.
The Gardener
This summer I became a gardener. I never had a green thumb before – in fact I had never wanted to get my hands dirty or be anywhere near worms or creepy insects...
Hear O Israel
My uncharged cell phone flashing red at me, as if to say, “Feed me! Feed me!” And where is the charger, anyway? Why can’t I keep track of simple things like the phone charger? Who’s in charge here anyway?
The Choice I Make
When I became sick (diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia), I had a choice. I could cry and become depressed and spend a lot of time in bed, or I could live, really live . . .
A Big Gray Lump Called Pain
He cannot rule me; I am not my pain. Yes, he is in me, but I am the master.
Seeing Clearly
I see flashes in my left eye. I need an appointment with a retina specialist.
She Walks the Palace
While you may see "an older single," I see something different.
Thoughts Upon My Brother's Sudden Death
What I tell my fears...
A Bat Mitzvah Nightmare
(aka, ‘Confessions of a Sleep-Deprived Mom’)
Just between the two of us . . . after all the money your father and I spent on this event, it had better be fabulous!
The Power of Saying ‘Thanks’
The feeling of choking and spluttering and gasping for air, as my lungs terrifyingly closed up, was not one that will leave in a hurry.
His Name Was Angel
I had a difficult time understanding his thick East African accent, but this much I understood. He was the second angel I had met on my journey.
Building My Sanctuary: A Home for All
After more than a decade of working as assistant rabbi and rebbetzin, our dream of opening our own independent Chabad center came true.
Finding a 30-Year-Old Picture of Me With the Rebbe
I searched for a long time but was unable to locate a picture because we didn’t remember the exact date of the trip.
‘How Do You Manage?’
Chatting With the Mother of a Large Family
A Message in a Matchbook
Somehow, as soon as I mention my mother, inevitably, everyone accepts.