Symbol of Knitting Hope

The Little Red Dress

In 2017, Tanya Singer found herself in need of refuge after watching her son survive brain surgery. To cope, she turned to an unlikely source: knitting. The former general manager of a corporate media company was renewed and replenished by the healing powers of the age-old handiwork. She now never goes a day without knitting, and her husband jokes that there is not one room in their home without knitting supplies.  Eventually, Singer’s passion for knitting spurred her to join a community of knitters and, most recently, to begin a research project she calls “Knitting Hope.” She was particularly interested in researching how the craft has been practiced throughout Jewish history.  Singer says her research began two years ago after she read a Moment Magazine article titled “The Girl in the Blue Sweater” about Holocaust survivor Helena...

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Family tree

Beshert | Six Degrees of Aunt Beck

As editor of my college newspaper, the Oberlin Review, part of my job was to ensure that capable underclassmen were in place to lead it in the future. I began this process in the spring of 1960 by having a conversation with Bill Schechner, a freshman two years behind me. His writing was energetic. It was easy to edit his copy. I thought he had what it took to be an editor. I met with Bill in my office to sound him out about his interest in the paper and eventually becoming an editor. At 20, I was an experienced interviewer—I’d covered the campus visits of such prominent figures as Julius Nyerere, the founding president of Tanzania, and the singer Marian Anderson. But I had no experience recruiting staff for an organization. First, I had to get...

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My Mother’s Three Seders

Though Rachel never felt it, her family was poor. She liked visiting friends who came from smaller families, had more room in their homes, and whose mothers served rich cakes. But her parents, Blima and Moshe, managed to eke out a living for their growing brood, and she never went hungry.  The Genuths, among 10,500 Jewish residents of Sighet (comprising 40 percent of the town’s population), lived in a three-room apartment near shops, a movie theater, synagogues and churches. Most importantly, they lived in the same long yard as Rachel’s grandmother Chaya, to whom Rachel and her siblings ran whenever Blima scolded them. It was Chaya who never let Rachel or her older sister Elisabeth forget that they must help those less fortunate. Never mind that Blima sold gifts of toys they received. Never mind that...

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Beshert | The Brother Who Opened My Path—and My World

My big brother, Jerry Rose, was my beshert, He was eleven years older than me. I adored him. He was my idol and my mentor. Jerry was a writer and an artist. Today, so am I—because of him. When I was little, he read poetry to me, classics like Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” and John Keats’ “Ode to a Grecian Urn.” As I grew up, he gave me reading lists and critiqued my writing. He taught me to use strong and authentic imagery and avoid clichés. When I went to college, I wrote asking Jerry’s advice about everything—from books and writing to love and sex. When I wrote that I was starting to keep kosher, he didn’t approve. He responded that Jewish dietary laws were really about health and no longer relevant in today’s world. I...

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Beshert | My Two Bundles of Meant-To-Be

I always wanted to be somebody’s mother. Since I was six, I would fantasize about holding my baby, dressing her and loving her.  I shared so much love and laughter with my own mother, Helen Ruset, that I wanted to have that with my baby. My dream baby was always a girl. We would have matching outfits, me and mini-me. So when I found myself divorced at 40 with no children, all I could think was, “This is not my plan.”  I began my quest for Mr Right. I looked online, went on singles trips, and allowed myself to be fixed up. I never found him. Clearly, the universe had him going in a different direction. After six years of looking for him, I decided to adopt a baby. I had a successful home-based business and a four-bedroom house....

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