French, or: Arabic

A 'Bref Double' I took French for seven years in school; Now I remember very little of it. As an adult, I studied Arabic - Flushing what remained from my brain. The brain can rust like any other tool; That's something Papa liked to tell me. "Practice if you want something to stick." My seven years… Continue reading French, or: Arabic

All, or: One

An American sentence: In Arabic, I request an untorn bag. The cashier smiles, surprised. What's an 'American Sentence'? Allen Ginsberg, inventor of the American Sentence, felt that the haiku didnโ€™t work as well in English. Ginsberg decided to remove the line structure of the haiku, maintaining the requirement of 17 syllables total. He felt that… Continue reading All, or: One

An Arab friend?

I entered college in the Fall of '98. Back then, I was a secular Jew and very proud of my Jewish identity. Keeping Shabbat, kashrut, praying three times daily, etc. meant very little to me; I understood those Jewish traditions only vaguely. It so happened that my university had a very small Jewish population; and… Continue reading An Arab friend?

Speak to me in Arabic

I published this approximately 2ยฝ years ago on the Times of Israel February 20, 2018 This week, I am beginning my fourth semester of spoken Arabic at the Polis Institute. In truth, I should be working to improve my Hebrew. I can get by on the street, and I'm always able to compensate with some… Continue reading Speak to me in Arabic

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 50

Papa's first yahrzeit fell out on the Shabbat before last. So... what did marking this date change for me? * * * Some things are inevitable. Even before learning anything meaningful or interesting about the orphan's kaddish, I knew that I would attend minyan every day to recite it for Papa. I also knew that this… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 50

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 28

I harbor doubts. Am I not sufficiently devastated by my father's death? How can I bring myself to write about this creatively, as I do, playing with language and imagery? Why do most other people grieve privately, rather than making a public spectacle of their mourning processes? It isn't easy to write these blog posts,… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 28

The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 25

Beyond purportedly elevating the soul of one's departed parent to higher metaphysical planes or possibly demonstrating why one's parent deserves to be granted a good fate (blog #11), the kaddish, according to the Talmud, also affects God Himself. In Tractate Brachot 3a, we read the following: ื‘ืฉืขื” ืฉื™ืฉืจืืœ ื ื›ื ืกื™ืŸ ืœื‘ืชื™ ื›ื ืกื™ื•ืช ื•ืœื‘ืชื™ ืžื“ืจืฉื•ืช ื•ืขื•ื ื™ืŸ ื™ื”ื ืฉืžื™ื”… Continue reading The skeptic’s kaddish for the atheist, 25