Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Survivor's Solioquy: A Short Story

(reprinted from April, 2012 in light of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz)

When my camp was liberated I made a resolution. All the bad would stay in the past. I had a future to build and it was going to be a good one. It was not so easy, though.
By the end of 1946 I came to the hard realization that I was the only one left of all my family. I didn’t let it devastate me, though and then in the DP camp I met my husband. Manny shared my determination to forget the darkness. We stayed in the camp until we finally got passage on a ship to Palestine. It wasn’t one of the legal ships and to say conditions were hard would be an understatement.  It didn’t matter what the conditions were, though, we were stopped by the British and shipped to Cyprus. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Match Made in Heaven

By the beginning of my senior year in high school my mind was made up. I would go to the University of Colorado for college. It had a large Jewish population, a good social work department, and a beautiful campus nestled among the Rocky Mountains. My acceptance letter came in October and just as I was poised to send in the registration forms and check, the winter weather began in Kansas.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It Might Not Be Politically Correct

It was a typical sweltering Phoenix afternoon when my husband entered our apartment on August 11th. He’d just heard a breaking news story on the car radio that he needed to share with me.

“There’s a sniper on top of the Holiday Inn in downtown Wichita and he’s shot several people.”
Skyline of downtown Wichita with the Holiday Inn in the center

I was horrified. Not so much by the news but by the fact that my husband was telling me about it without even knowing if my father was okay.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I love the world when the wind blows…

So began the rhyme emblazoned on the stationery my cousin had given me when I was a pre-teen. There was a picture of a young girl with her hair blowing in the breeze. I loved that picture and I loved those note pages because, like the girl, I loved the blowing wind. But I don’t love the howling wind that is blasting outside my house this morning. Its cry sends shivers through my bones, probably bringing back dormant memories of tornado weather from my childhood.

Monday, December 29, 2014


More than forty years have passed and I can still subconsciously hear my shriek of pain as I spilled hot oil down the front of my body. I still remember my fears of scars, my impatience of being bedridden, my slow recovery, and finally the incessant itching as the burns healed. For they did heal, leaving me with only one hidden scar the size of a fingernail. My burns, unlike those of Ayala Shapria, were only second-degree burns and not near any vital organs.
The Shapira family car following the attack: Team Tzachi Shomron First Response

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

One Family, One People

Year after year the Torah portion, Mikketz, ends with a cliff-hanger. And year after year the mysteries are cleared up in the portion Vayigash. As the truth is revealed it touches our hearts. The tears that come to my eyes, though, are not just from the chanting of the Torah. They also come from a memory of my father from eight years ago.

For those not familiar with these Torah portions Yosef was sold into slavery, falsely accused of attacking his master’s wife, spent twelve years in prison, was released and taken to Pharaoh’s palace, and then became second-in-command to distribute food during the seven years of famine. At the zenith of his career, ten of his brothers, the ones who sold him into slavery, appeared before him. He was gruff, hid his identity, and put all sorts of harsh conditions on them. At the close of the Torah portion he accused Binyomin of stealing his goblet and demanded that he become his slave. No one else, he declared, could take the place of his youngest brother, the beloved son of his father’s old age. How could the brothers leave Binyomin behind in Egypt? How could they go to Yaacov, their father in Canaan, without him? How can the portion end with such tension?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jewish Pride

Even in Phoenix the evenings can get chilly during Chanukah and I was cold as we stood by the huge menorah at the city hall plaza. The Chabad rabbi lit the candles with a torch while a handful of Jews and dozens of vagrants looked on. There were some holiday songs and then volunteers handed out warm potato latkes to all. That’s why the vagrants were there, free food. One of them, obviously more than slightly inebriated, stood to the left of me waiting for his handout. This man was twice my width and a good head and a half taller than me. His breath stank of alcohol and he began swaying slightly. As he swayed farther and farther to the right I envisioned him collapsing on top of me. There was no escape so I quickly I gave him a shove to the left, stabling him, and then grabbed my husband.