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Burden of memory on both sides of the ocean

In 1938, when my mother fled Stockstadt am Rhein -- the small German town her family had helped settle in 1721 -- it had 2,000 people and two Jewish families totaling eight people. That means the Jewish population in Stockstadt was about one half of one percent, a statistic that mirrored Germany at large. In 1939, 350,000 Jews lived in a country of 50,000,000 people. By 1945, the German Jewish ...

My Neuro Hero

Dr. Robert Sapolsky and friend I stumbled upon Professor Robert Sapolsky’s lecture series at a local library. His presentations gave me an amazing understanding of stress. Dr. Sapolsky, a MacArthur Fellow and a professor at Stanford University, spends each summer in Kenya studying a population of wild baboons, trying to identify the relationship between an animal’s personality, environment and stress levels. What Dr. Sapolsky has discovered is that low-ranking baboons ...

The Art of Titling a Book

I’m often asked why I titled my upcoming book, Is It Night or Day? Warning: what follows is a bit of a spoiler. An explanation of the title appears on page 205 of the book. For those who don’t want to wait, read on. The cover of my new book, "Is It Night or Day?" My new book is about child immigration. Throughout history, many families have made the painful ...

Birding and Blogging

Each day, ideas fly through my mind like birds gliding across the vast blue sky. They flicker in my consciousness, capturing my attention for only a moment. “Hmmmm,” I say to myself, or “Interesting.” Then they pass. I haven't ever taken the time to record or catalog my birds. But now, I have entered the world of blogging. Here, in this unique medium, small, significant thoughts or fleeting observations are ...

"It was dark. They were kids. He was killed."

While listening to the radio yesterday, I heard an interview with a man who was telling the story of how his father had been murdered. I was struck by the way in which the man remembered the incident, which happened when he was 9 years old: “It was dark. They were kids. He was killed.” Then, he would take a breath, collect himself, try again. “It was a gang. He ...

A bullet that cannot be extracted

A friend who read Motherland three times wrote to tell me that he had made new discoveries on his most recent reading. He said he looked at the book through the “specially-ground lens” of his own personal experiences. On this reading, he identified “the vividness with which she (Edith) carried, late into her life, the feeling of desertion she had when her parents sent her to safety, even though - ...
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