Pursuing My Family’s Ghosts in Morocco

2010- The El Zama Synagogue of Marrakech.

My great-grandmother Mimi lost her mind from too much memory and found it at the rabbi’s grave. To cure her, my grandfather, just a boy, carried her weight on his shoulders two hours each way in the desert. This is the story my grandfather told us about his childhood in Morocco, though by then he… Continue reading Pursuing My Family’s Ghosts in Morocco

Creative Trauma

For more than three millennia, the Yazidi people had lived clustered around the sacred Sinjar Mountains in Northern Iraq. It was there, in the small hours of the morning of Aug. 3, 2014, that Maia’s life as she had known it ended. She recalls how everything had always felt knitted together in the village where… Continue reading Creative Trauma

Is This Story Real?

It is evening at the Brasserie Lipp, on the Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris. The fall after-theater crowd shrugs off furs and foulards, as waiters take balletic strides in ankle-length black-and-whites, balancing plates of choucroute, andouille, and Bismarck herring. Signs warn against feeding les chiens at the table, or expecting to pay by check. Painted angels… Continue reading Is This Story Real?

My Last JDate

Read Part I and Part II here. XIV. April 10-13, 2013 On Wednesday evening, after they’d taken away Dean’s untouched dinner tray, I brought up two grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches from the cafeteria. When I offered one, Dean happily took it and munched away. On the huge screen above the bed the Nets were… Continue reading My Last JDate

My Last JDate

Read Part I here. IV. February 2014 I’m walking along the Berlin Wall Memorial, a half-mile of rusted iron poles running along Bernauer Strasse, dividing what was once East and West Berlin. The air is damp and heavy, snowmelt has turned the ground to mud. I’ve seen it before, the photo of the East German… Continue reading My Last JDate

My Last JDate

I. June 2011 Most stories with a beginning and an end have a middle, but not this one. It’s about two people who began with an ending, or two people whose ending was nothing more than a long beginning. Or maybe the story’s all middle, since they had no history, and no future. Whatever it… Continue reading My Last JDate

Jerusalem, Spring 2015: What Is Normal Here?

Jerusalem, Israel, Thursday, May 7, 2015. (Photo/Dan Balilty)

Before dawn one day early last year, I tagged along with a garbage truck picking up trash around the southern part of Jerusalem. The crew was Jewish and Arab, and so was the trash. (“Everyone eats the same potatoes,” one of the crew chiefs told me.) Spending time on the truck seemed a good way… Continue reading Jerusalem, Spring 2015: What Is Normal Here?

Becoming Moses

Prologue: The Crazy File In the spring of 1997, shortly after Israel pulled out of its settlements in Hebron, Michael Freund was working at the communications bureau of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then serving his first stint in that office. The Diaspora Affairs adviser at the time worked across the hall, where mail… Continue reading Becoming Moses