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The author and his mother

Last year I interviewed my mother, Adela, a Holocaust survivor, and gained so many valuable insights that I decided to do a follow-up. For anyone who may regret not having asked their mother about lingering questions, what better time for such a conversation than Mother’s Day? Ma, why do you celebrate two birthdays every year?

I am really celebrating two miracles. I was born in 1921 in Poland to parents who had lost a son and daughter in an epidemic...

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Hand of an elderly person held by the hand of a younger person

I think I have the only mother who is going into assisted living without complaining.

Yes, she’s sad. She will desperately miss her three close friends, with whom she grew up in Albany, N.Y., and who all moved down to her town in south Florida. She questions whether she will see her brother and sister-in-law again. While she will only be moving three hours north, this will be too long a drive for her elderly friends and relatives. She will mourn the beautiful view of the ducks on the pond, right outside her patio window. And she will loathe giving up her privacy and quiet.


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Silver sword encrusted with jewels stuck into the side of a grassy hill

With the arrival of the much-anticipated final season of the acclaimed television series Game of Thrones, people are tuning in on a weekly basis with as much zeal as we do to our Torah. Just as our Hebrew Bible offers new surprises with every reading, Game of Thrones reveals new plot twists and revelations with each weekly episode. I wrote about some of these similarities when season seven of Game of Thrones was released; now, as we near the end of the episodes of Westeros, here are a few more commonalities...

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The Braun family (16 people) in 2015

Planning to offer brief remarks before the Mourner's Kaddish for my mother, I was surprised to find it much harder to summarize her life than it had been for my father four years earlier.

Proud of his role in the world and in our lives, I had said:

My father. Born Etz or Etzhu in Simleul Silvania, Rumania. Immigrated as Isac Braunstein. Died as Howard Braun. Truly an American success story, he served his country and his profession. Loved his family. Sought always to think...

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Israeli flags and blue streamers on a wire in the sunlight

This is the day that the Eternal has made – let us exult and rejoice on it. -- Psalm 118:24

Seventy-one years ago today, David Ben Gurion stood on a dais on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv and proclaimed independence for a modern Jewish State, the State of Israel. At the time, the borders and the place of religion in the new country were unresolved; other weighty issues – a constitution, a legal system, and the name of the country – had only been decided in the days preceding independence.

Seven decades and one year later, some of those questions have been resolved, but...

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