Suzanne Singer saying words to kids

From the Archives | An Inheritance of Words

This article was originally published in the August 2006 issue of Moment.    Lately, I've been thinking about words—my words—those that may be a piece of me worth leaving behind for my family. It's a reflection that leads me backward and forward—backward to the challenge of gathering and sorting; forward to the decision about what to do with what I find. It connects me to a piece I wrote about my plans for the future on the day after my 70th birthday, just one year ago. Included in the list was writing an ethical will. From medieval times, Jews wrote such documents to "transmit values, ideas and personal reflections to family and loved ones," according to 'Ethical Wills: A Modern Jewish Treasury' by Nathaniel Stampfer and Jack Riemer. The impulse to offer unsolicited advice to those younger may...

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David's Palace

From the Archives | Digging Deep for David’s Palace

This article was originally published in the October 2005 issue of Moment.    It was Friday afternoon in Jerusalem. The Shabbat rush filled the aisles at my supermarket. We were less than a week from the deadline for all Jews to leave Gaza and four communities in northern Samaria two days from Tisha B'Av, the fast day in remembrance of the destruction of the two Temples, and many other more recent tragedies that fell on this day. My shopping cart filled by rote while I spoke to two friends about what might happen and how we came to this perilous moment for the unity of the nation. We did not speak about the dangers that may lie in wait from Hamas, now declaring triumphantly that it is they who forced the Zionists from their homes. Our immediate...

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Water in Israel

From the Archives | The Pleasures of the Promised Land

This article was originally published in the February 2006 issue of Moment.    I'm astounded that 65 percent of American Jews have never visited Israel. Compare that to 22 percent of Jews in the United Kingdom and 30 percent from Mexico and South Africa. Maybe I'm astounded because I never return to what is now my home most of the year without discovering new pleasures and new mysteries. For too many Jews, Israel is a "should go place" but not a "really excites me" destination. Here's my advice: Tune out Zionist entreaties. Apply the measures to Israel that you use for any travel destination. Come because Israel is a microcosm of extraordinary people and places with all sorts of opportunities to fit your special fascinations. Are you a birder? Come to one of the world's great migration flyways...

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Israel flag

From the Archives | Testing Ground

This article was originally published in the December 2004 issue of Moment.    A crowing rooster in a play yard and a curious granddaughter led us to Chelev Haaretz, "Fat of the Land." Inside the converted army storage depot left over from the Yom Kippur War we found another world, just a couple of blocks from our home in Jerusalem. Rabbi Yair Ben David opened Chelev Haaretz more than 20 years ago in order to do something for kids in the crime ridden slums of Baka. Today those slums, with tree-draped lanes, restored stone houses and an acceptance of religious and ethnic diversity, make up one of Jerusalem's most desirable neighborhoods. The high crime rate is gone, but poverty in the workers' housing blocks—intensified during the economically punishing years since September 2000—remains. And so do Rabbi Ben David...

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Temple in Southern Varanasi

From the Archives | India’s Lasting Gift

This article was originally published in the February 2007 issue of Moment.    India, with 16 official languages and a population of more than a billion people (80 percent Hindu and 13 percent Muslim), is home to the second largest Muslim community in the world. India gallops forward at an eight percent GNP growth per year, but statistics alone cannot capture this booming, contentious democracy that bombards the senses and challenges old certainties. After a week visiting Hindu temples and Mogul palace fortresses in Rajasthan, the State of the Princes, my husband and I arrived at Varanasi, the spirit-soaked city on the Ganges. Along teeming roads our driver wove between wandering cows, loaded camels gazing down imperiously, ox-drawn wooden-wheeled carts, bicycle rickshaws piled so high with brush that their straining drivers all but disappeared, hundreds of rainbow-tasseled vividly...

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Flag of Israel

From the Archives | Necessary Losses—and Gains

This article was originally published in the April 2005 issue of Moment.    Some 20 years ago, Judith Viorst's bestseller 'Necessary Losses' seemed to me wise but, in part, remote, written about times to come still hidden below the horizon. Since then, my parents have died and none of numerous relatives in my hometown of New York City is sail alive. I have given up being a full-time editor and become a contributing editor. My husband and I have had a few yellow-light health issues—none, so far, interfering with travel, keeping up with the 11 grandchildren or the pleasantness of planning future events. I'm in the run-up to 70. That's caught my attention, more with amazement than fear or dismay. I kind of like my older self. Age brings willingness to say things that go crosswise to common...

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