Essays

"Mashrou'"

World Literature Today , Sept. 2018

"I’m driving down the coastal road, flashes of bright blue sea, glimmering gold and silver in the afternoon sunlight, rolling beside me, and I’m flicking through my You Tube playlist called Good Arabic Music. I don’t really speak Arabic, except for that brief class I took last year in Yaffo, which in Arabic is called Yaffa – which always puts me in mind of the Hebrew word, Yaffa – which means pretty, or  good.  At the end of each session, the teacher would translate an Arabic song as a way of teaching us vocabulary, and that’s how I learned what the words to Inta Omri mean, and who Dalida and Fairuz were, and all about Farid Al Atrash. When Fairuz sang  Li Beirut, min albi salam li Beirut, the mournfulness  in her voice painted a vision of desolate cities and lost dreams."

"Japan in light and Darkness or Meditations on the Japanese Toilet"

Queen Mob's Tea House, Dec. 2016

"Architecture speaks. Its messages, spoken in the languages of size, material, dimension and style disclose the mind and soul of the builder, but not only that; if one learns how to read its language, architecture lays bare the way a society perceives and expresses its deepest beliefs about how life ought to be lived."

"What Remains" 

Jewish Currents, May 2016

"Yiddish Tales.  The book lies casually, almost coyly, on my desk.  It’s a hardcover bound in fading blue cloth, a 1946 reprint of a 1912 collection of Yiddish stories translated into English. I found it in a used book store in Tel Aviv, and though the volume’s dusty presence there was clearly the result of a long and inscrutable journey, I regard it as the culmination of my own pilgrimage; for it is I who came, by way of  a convoluted mental odyssey, to the threshold of its pages."

"The Word of a Woman"

The Jerusalem Report , Aug, 2016

"My bible, the one I’m using to write this, is the Soncino Press second edition, whose translation of the ancient Hebrew is recognized as “conforming more faithfully to traditional Jewish interpretation,” than its  predecessor. It was given to me in May of 1977, on the occasion of my Bat Mitzvah, by the Beth Tikvah Synagogue in Toronto."

"Beyond Belief"

The Jerusalem Report , Aug. 2013

"In recent years I’ve come to think of myself as an atheist. This is something of a paradox, because at the same time, like two lines running parallel but never touching, I’ve also felt a deepening of my identity as a Jew. Obviously there is a failure of logic here, a paradigm which does not stand up to rational analysis. Judaism is based on belief in God’s laws as they appear in the Torah. If one doesn’t believe that they were given by a higher power, on what is one’s Jewish identity based?"