Category Archives: Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes

Channeling Henry Roth

AUTHOR’S  NOTE:  The factual details of Henry Roth’s life are taken from Steven Kellman’s masterful biography of Roth (Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth; W.W. Norton & Co., New York: 2005) as well as the four volumes of Roth’s autobiographical novel “Mercy of a Rude Stream” and his posthumously published last such novel, “Shifting Landscape.”  My […]

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It was June 1st, 1971: still 18 years old, I’d signed a lease with no guarantors for a four room tenement apartment at 505 West 122nd Street, complete with mice and roaches just off heroin-ridden Amsterdam Avenue. Dormitory life was not for me at Columbia College, where I’d matriculated almost two years before. I had […]

Also posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Lost New York, Uncategorized |

On the Wings of Angels

During the weeks after my mother’s passing on December 4, 2016, I was particularly comforted by the invitation of my friend Abe, the bal koreh (official Torah reader) at Park Avenue Synagogue on 87th Street and Madison Avenue, to attend Shabbes (Sabbath) services and recite the mourner’s kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead that […]

The Measure of a Man

The size of a funeral is the measure of a man, and in 1932, Upper West Sider Sol Brill’s departure from this earth was larger than life.  An, honest, dignified, gentle soul was cut down by cancer at age 54, at the height of his career as a movie-theater builder and operator.  Brill’s funeral was […]

Also posted in A Walker in the City: Flaneur Pieces, Lost New York, Sol Brill, Sol Brill, Uncategorized |

True Color

It was springtime, 1978, and my girlfriend and I were living in sin.  At least we’d kashered our little flesh pot by pledging troths.  Now it was time to pick the place for the wedding simkhe.  We’d already had fair warning: my late father-in-law had come from Germany as a young adult in 1926.  His […]

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Itka’s sun-tanned left fore-arm stretched out limply from her hospital smock when I visited a few months ago, the five numbers tatooed by the Nazi SS shocking me with their blue clarity as nothing else can.  She was in a rehab center near Philadelphia after falling down the stairs in her Northeast rowhouse.  Thank G-d she wasn’t hurt worse, but still […]

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Sol Goldberg and A Sow’s Ear in The Bowery Boogie !

Also posted in Found Objects, Press, Sol Goldberg biography |

Until You Do Not Know, Part II: Ad Lo Yada, Ha’kheylek ha’sheyni

AD D’LO YADA – PART 2 Alone, down a darkened block in Brooklyn’s Borough Park I sauntered past midnight, a few weeks ago, unafraid.  Street crime within the eruv, the religious boundaries of this ultra-orthodox nabe, is very low.  To boot, I never feel anxious because I know well the local tongue.  Speaking to myself in Yiddish […]

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Forty Days and Forty Nights

Tears poured from my eyes as I paused by the windows of the jetway, girding myself for the flight abroad. Through the glass, I gazed upon the 747, an old warhorse with “Jerusalem” painted on its brave nose, the Magen David proudly adorning its tail. What made me choke with emotion and recognition? Was this […]

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Ad Lo Yada: Til One Doesn’t Know

“Until one doesn’t know,” goes the traditional imprecation towards insobriety for Jews celebrating the hanging of Ahashueros’ evil minister Haman and his ten sons. The group had plotted to kill all the Hebrews in Persia, and were foiled only by the intervention of the King’s favorite dancing girl, the Jewess Esther, implored by her cousin, […]

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