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The author's father, with bowling ball, and his bowling team in Harrisburg, PA

Birthright citizenship in the United States: who knew it would become controversial? The newly heated discussion, along with an energized general disdain for immigrants, caught me by such surprise that I did something quite outside my skill set: I made a music video.

It started out as a poem until I decided that my poem was really song lyrics, so I composed a little tune, hired a singer and fashioned "Dark Lamp," a music video that, on a broad scale, pays homage to the American tradition of immigration...

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The authors, Karen and Marc Rivo, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem

Perhaps it was presenting a tallit (prayer shawl) to our b’nei mitzvah-aged daughters overlooking the Dead Sea from the ancient fortress of Masada or feeling the spiritual peace of majestic Safed and Mount Meron; maybe it was the delicious cuisine and worldly smells of Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market. Or could it have been the profound realization that we of Jewish faith can trace our roots back to that arid desert and the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey, where we received the Torah from Mt Sinai?


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Older woman laughing toward the camera while sitting at a kitchen table

I was born in 1936. That year, the birth rate plummeted to an all-time low of 2.1 children per mother, a drop perhaps best explained by the financial hardships of The Great Depression. I suspect that expectant parents of 1936 felt trepidation along with their joy – and in my experience, we few who entered the world that year often feel alone.

At a recent Torah study, my rabbi mentioned the Lamed Vav Tzadikim, “righteous ones,” and the significance of the number 36 in Judaism. She had my attention. Could there be something special about my birth year? I wanted to know more.


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Emma's Torch employees

Kerry Brodie is founder and executive director of Emma’s Torch, a non-profit social enterprise that provides paid culinary training and job placement for refugees, asylum seekers, and human trafficking victims. Kerry, her Israeli-born husband, and baby daughter, are members of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, N.Y.

I caught up with Kerry, at Emma’s Torch restaurant, where I enjoyed a delicious brunch of black-eyed pea hummus, a succotash grain bowl, pulled lamb on pita, and knafeh, a Middle Eastern sweet...

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The author in a scene from her one-woman show, "Bubby's Kitchen"

How do we become our truest selves? 

As the granddaughter of two remarkable partisan resistance fighters who survived the Holocaust fighting Nazis in the forests of Poland and Belarus, I have always struggled with this question. This legacy, so large and all-encompassing, often makes me wonder if who I am is enough and whether or not I am living up to my truest self. 

In my mind, the past and present have always been intertwined, and I know the same is true for many Holocaust survivors and their descendants. The question of how to continue to move forward while also...

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