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Barbara Solomon Josselsohn


How did your parents meet?

As a religious school teacher at a Reform Jewish synagogue, each year I ask my sixth-grade students to think about their parents, or any two people they know who are happily married. How did those people become a couple?

Over the years, I've heard wonderful stories about blind dates and pool parties, about fender-benders that led to dinner and people who were expected fall for one person and ended up with someone entirely different. But my favorite story came from a boy whose parents – I'll call them Jackie and Scott – met while they were each...

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Recently, as I’ve done every February for 32 years, I stopped to think about Marilyn Klinghoffer.

Maybe you’ve never heard of her. Or maybe you’ve forgotten. But for a brief moment in 1985, Marilyn Klinghoffer was a household name – and the reason I remember her is because she changed my life.

It started that September, when I was an aspiring journalist in a dead-end editing job, and I landed an interview at a trade-publishing company. Assuming the HR manager would be a suited-up corporate type, I was shocked when a tiny, gray-haired woman welcomed me into her office. She...

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During one of my first years as a religious school teacher, my sixth-grade students and I had the privilege of meeting a Holocaust survivor and hearing his story.

The man, who was well into his 80s, was charming and delightful. Dressed in a dapper blue blazer, with a layer of snow-white hair on his head and a hearing aid tucked discreetly behind one ear, he told jokes, displayed photos of his grandchildren, and spoke lovingly about his wife and his long marriage.

As he began to recount his teenage years, his talk turned darker. He described being kicked out of school and...

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Close up of someone holding the hands of another person as if in comfort

The most remarkable thing of all was how much he looked like my father. Not like my father during those last three months, when his skin hung from his face, gray and translucent – more like the way my father looked a few years earlier, with his round face, his shock of white hair, his waistline that gave away his love for the finer things in life, like pecan pie and strawberry cheesecake. I could tell this man liked cheesecake.

Our paths crossed on my father’s second yahrzeit, the anniversary of his death. It was a Friday night, and I was attending services at my temple. As life...

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