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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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Hand of a young women holding the hand of a young woman as if in a hospital

When I was a little girl, some evenings I had trouble falling asleep for fear that one day my mother would die.

As the daughter of an English teacher during the late 1960s, I struggled with separation anxiety and resented having a working mother who was not waiting for me when I came home from school. When I tearfully called my mom to my bed, she explained that I was having my “bad feelings” and reassured me that when I was older, I, too, would have a family and would not be as traumatized by her death as I would be now, when she was very unlikely to die.

I found her words...

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Pegs in a wooden board connected by white thread

Just two weeks ago, Jews the world over recalled the 11 murdered Jews and the eight injured who were shot at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, on Shabbat Va-eira, October 27, 2018. In the year since the shooting, I’ve been thinking – as have rabbis and Jews the world over – about the antisemitic thread that runs through the Tree of Life tragedy.

As a longtime American Red Cross volunteer, I was one of a team of three “disaster spiritual care” volunteers who responded to Pittsburgh...

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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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