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Bruce Black


Man sitting on a stone ledge overlooking a body of water at sunset

When I was the same age as my daughter I used to worry as if worrying were a kind of prayer,

hoping whatever I was worried about would turn out ok or not happen at all. 

I placed my faith in worrying, believing in the power of negative thinking to distract evil,

to mislead the force of whatever power in the universe might prevent me from getting what I wanted—

good grades, a victory in a race, a girlfriend, admission to a good college, that kind of thing. 

If I worried long enough and hard enough, I believed I could effect the outcome, steer a course...

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Close up image of a colorful seder plate with ritual elements upon it


You won’t smell soup cooking yet or cake or kugel or tzimmes baking on the day before Passover.

There’s just the sight of empty cupboards, counters crowded with hametz, boxes of cereal, cans of beans, jars of jelly.

The oven is cleaning itself this year, but not the racks. I’ll scrub them with a Brillo pad until my arms and fingers ache and the silver gleams and the stains of the past year wash off with the soapsuds down the drain.

Before long I’ll wipe the crust of crumbs off the inside of the oven and I’ll wipe all the countertops and the table, too, and...

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A hand lightly touches a mezuzah on a doorpost with black space behind the entryway

Until a few months ago, I felt safe whenever I stepped into our temple. 

But then the massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation occurred, and the next Saturday when we held Shabbat morning worship services and Torah study in the library, I was asked to guard our temple’s front door.

As the service began, I stood at the open doorway to welcome latecomers. A fresh breeze blew off the Gulf. The sun was shining. I watched cars speeding by. For the first time in my life, though, I wondered who would offer a friendly wave and who might drive into the temple’s parking lot...

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Judy Glickman Lauders black and white photo of Auschwitz gate entrance reading ARBEIT MACHT FREI

As I sit at my desk gazing at the black and white photographs in Judy Glickman Lauder’s Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception (Aperture, 2018), something astonishing happens. I see the subjects upon which she focuses her camera lens– an empty gas chamber, a dissection room, a cell’s graffiti-covered walls – but somehow I also see, hidden beyond the shadows, the Jews who once inhabited these places and who are no longer there.

In the book’s afterward, titled “A Personal Journey,” Glickman Lauder explains that when she first entered Auschwitz and Birkenau, what...

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