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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review January 30, 2008 / 23 Shevat 5768

Life's footprints

By Andrea Simantov


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The other day, my community was struck by an incomprehensible tragedy. A local family — hardworking, moral, and active in charity organizations and a myriad of other good-works — was killed in a head-on collision. Among the dead were both parents and their eighteen-year-old daughter who was, among other terrific things, a counselor for the local scouts troop to which my daughter belongs. An eleven-year-old son survived the crash and is, at the time of this writing, still in the hospital. The family also leaves a nineteen-year-old daughter who was at her army base when the accident occurred.

Ill-equipped as I may be in trying to reconcile my unwavering faith in G-d when pitted against an event too mind-blowing to sit with for more than a few moments at a time, I find myself looking back upon my life with more and more frequency as I wonder what it is that I'll be remembered for after being "called home" to my Maker.

Several weeks ago I received an email from a woman with whom I'd attended high school. We had sat in the same homeroom for four years and barely remembered one another, most probably never sharing even six words (if that much) as we passed one another in the packed hallways of the three-thousand-student school. Idreanne put together this reunion to discuss the "good old days" and invited another classmate who, unbeknownst to me, also had been living in Jerusalem for almost thirty years! No, I didn't remember Michele either, but it was equally heartwarming to see that she didn't have a clue about who I was during the post-Woodstock and acne-flecked days of our angst-filled youth.

How strange it was to learn that these two beautiful and outstandingly accomplished women had also shared feelings of isolation and ached to be popular and sought-after. They also remembered high school as a miserable time in their lives, and we all stared at one another before asking, respectively, "You felt that way?" Each one of us was a mother and — due to widowhood and divorce — had five marriages between us. As we reluctantly separated a few hours later, it was clear that one's personal history is often etched in the little moments with only occasional opportunity to work-itself into a "life-tome." We are writing our biographies one day, one meeting, and one relationship at a time.

Two days later I found myself entering a third-floor flat in the fervently-Orthodox section of Arzei HaBira where I was scheduled to meet with Penny, a woman I'd taught Torah to many years ago as part of an adult education program in a local Conservative synagogue. She was in Israel by herself to celebrate the High Holidays and had worked hard to arrange this reunion.

I had felt apprehensive that I might not recognize her but that concern dissipated the moment she opened the door. Now silver-haired, she was just as beautiful as I remembered her, recalling her rapt expression as she sat in the back of the classroom twenty years earlier. Penny kept me spellbound with the tale of how she became Torah-observant while remaining married to the same wonderful and not-religious husband! As with my high-school classmates, we promised one another that we'd remain in touch.


As we reluctantly separated a few hours later, it was clear that one's personal history is often etched in the little moments with only occasional opportunity to work-itself into a "life-tome." We are writing our biographies one day, one meeting, and one relationship at a time.
Because I am moving away from my neighborhood of twelve years, this past Friday night my friends made me a "good bye" party in the form of a traditional Oneg Shabbat at Susie's house. The guest list held no surprises because I was the one to hand it to Devorah, the event coordinator. I wish I could say that I had humbly "pshaw, pshawed" the idea of a going-away party, but I wanted to have a one-stop opportunity to say "thank you" and sit for a few hours with people who've played pivotal roles in my life.

The evening unfolded into a cross between the pioneer television shows, "This is Your Life" and "Queen for a Day" and, despite the fact that I cried the entire time, it was indescribably wonderful. Unrelated objects were dropped into a pile in the center of the room, and everyone selected an item to use as a prop in order to describe something about me: a memory, quality, or a wish for my future.

Some of less elegant moments in my life were laid bare for the merriment of others: the time I accidentally cooked and ate some very expensive chickens that my neighbor had stored in my freezer for safekeeping or trying on bathing suits in a Dead Sea resort, screaming loud enough for security personnel to question me after I saw myself in the full-length mirror.

Amid the Lucy/Ethel anecdotes of the evening, I was afforded ample opportunity to say "thank you" and describe what it felt like to have no other choice than to place my often-vulnerable life into the trusting arms of these former strangers who had bravely taken up the friendship gauntlet over the years. How during a horrifyingly ugly chapter in my life, my shame/fear/sadness was laid bare, and not a soul in that room ever brought it up for me to relive in all its Technicolor grandeur. I thanked one couple who had dared to warn me about a dangerous relationship that I had embarked upon even though they knew that — at the time of their interference — they were risking my unbridled wrath and near certainty that I'd sever our friendship. At the party was a woman who had, despite having only a nodding acquaintance with me, heard of my plight and offered me money at the point of my greatest destitution. Then there was the couple that had greeted my plane on a Friday morning as I returned to Israel after sitting shiva for my father in New York: they hadn't wanted me to sit in a taxi for the sad, return ride to Jerusalem. Sitting next to me at the oneg was an accomplished writer who — despite her fame and time demands — steadfastly believes in my literary talent and has, again and again, encouraged me to take chances.

These recollections were clearly interwoven with laughs, hugs, and the unmistakable sounds of real love coming from real friends who had hitched their life-wagons to mine as we traverse this glorious, blessed-by-G-d journey. Only one woman in the room knew just how deeply I'd suffered after someone I'd loved more than I'd ever imagined possible, died. She and her husband had had me to their home over and over because they understood that, because my relationship had seemed so odd to outsiders, there was nowhere else for me to go with my unbearable grief.

I've never been one to look back and sigh. Rather, I've always enjoyed waking to the palette of a new day and beginning to paint anew. Nevertheless, there seems to be something rewarding (and, no doubt age-related) about assessing one's relationships and wondering whether or not one has kindled enough friendship flames to keep himself warm in the years to come. Looking into the faces of my precious and hard-won friends over the past few weeks has given me great joy. In fact, there isn't a face in that crowd that I wouldn't want to see again and again in the years to come as we, together, leave behind footprints that can only grow lighter with each step as we dance our way toward tomorrow.

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JewishWorldReview.com contributor Andrea Simantov is a Jerusalem-based columnist and single mother of six. Comments by clicking here.


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© 2007, Andrea Simantov. This column first appeared in Orange County Jewish Life