Category Archives: Yiddish Land + Jewish Themes

Hillbilly Kheyder

August 1966. I’m fourteen years old, an acne-ridden, hook-nosed Jewish kid from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on the train to Jordan, a Greyhound bus neaded up north, alone through the summer night. My parents trusted me to spend an entire week wandering around New York on my own, staying with my uncle in his tiny rent-controlled […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

What’s in a name?

[Author’s Note: This essay, like several I’ve written, is liberally sprinkled with Yiddish words, transliterated with English letters via the standard system adopted by the YIVO Institute many decades ago. In most places I’ve translated the word(s) in a parenthetical immediately thereafter]. WHAT’S IN A NAME ? goes the popular refrain. Redolence, I say. Taste […]

Also posted in Essay Categories, Faves |

A Pesach’s Worth

The Passover holidays are upon us at the end of March and I’ve some urgent business to transact. Does anyone know how to get in touch with the Bureau of Weights and Measures of the Yiddish-speaking nation? Time is short ! Perhaps I’d best apply to the French Academy of Sciences for my particular need. […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

Satan’s Utensil, or “My Palm is My Pilot…”

Charles Saatchi, Donny Deutsch: name any flog-master you care to. In my opinion they’re second best, though, compared to the holy ones, those who bedeck Williamsburg’s streets with the word of G-d. Suddenly last summer, out for a bike jaunt, my mind did a double take as I stopped to answer a cell-phone call. Plastered […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |


Did Sci-Fi ever appeal to me? Not that I can remember. Even as a kid growing up in the town that built the first atom bomb, spaceships never grabbed me. Real life was strange enough, thank you, and not for the reasons you might guess. In the 50s and 60s, many of the local folks […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

What If God Were One of Us

A wonderful day was drawing to a close, and I headed towards the Culver line elevated with my French actor friend, our hearts and minds full to the bursting. Rafy and I suffer from the same delicious exile, secular Jews entranced by Yiddish. The two of us never tire of crossing and re-crossing the border, […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

The World To Come

Though hardly ever at a loss for words, a pair of adenocarcinomae have got me thinking earlier than usual about the Jewish high holidays. The yomim n’orim, the Days of Awe, are still months away. But it’s never to soon to start preparing. A holiday scene from a recent year will be my guide. Erev […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |

Into The Promised Land

From a sign on a former warehouse in Williamsburg, now used as a religious academy: “Danger to Life and Limb” – It is Absolutely Forbidden to Park Here From 800 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. – It is reserved for the Busses of the Talmud Torah” The Torah says that the land of milk and honey […]

Also posted in Essay Categories |