Selected Essays

When the Nazis came, not everyone divided neatly into ‘good’ neighbors and ‘bad’
The Boston Globe, April 8, 2021

“His letter came from South Australia, out of the blue. He wanted to thank me for my book about Christian and Jewish neighbors in the tiny German village of Rexingen, where my father’s family was from. ‘Your father was right,’ his letter assured me, ‘we all got along before Hitler.'” Read more…

“My Twice-Told Tale: Why I Wrote Good Neighbors, Bad Times Revisited
Women Writers, Women[‘s] Books, March 2021

“When I was growing up Jewish in Queens, New York after World War II, I was taught that America was a Melting Pot. And if I jumped right in, I could be like everyone else—even if my parents, who were refugees from Hitler’s Germany, said ‘moder’ and ‘fader’ instead of ‘mother’ and ‘father’ and ate liverwurst sandwiches, never peanut butter and jelly. If my friends didn’t care, that’s what mattered.” Read more…

“The Revolving Room”
Good Neighbors, Bad Times Revisited, University of Nebraska Press, March 2021

Mimi Schwartz is an award-winning essayist and nonfiction writer who has addressed some of our thorniest issues. In this excerpt from the book, she explores what happens when two friends land on opposite sides of history—and try to talk about it. Read here…

“Fix-it Fantasy”
Persimmon Tree, December 2018

“When you’re married for fifty years to a man who fancies himself Mr. Fix-it, you don’t learn how to hang pictures, unclog dehumidifiers, or replace toilet seats. So when, after a weekend of guests that included two uber-bathroom-going toddlers, you discover that your toilet seats now roll like ships on high sea, you need to do something.” Read more…

“Lesson From a Last Day”
Pangyrus, March 2017

“My husband’s living will is in his backpack when he checks into the little New England hospital near the lake house where we stay every summer. Not that we are worried. Stu has had mild pneumonia twice before, a side effect of a weakened heart. The slight fever of the night before didn’t stop him from playing Mexican Train with our granddaughter Sara, the white-tiled dominoes standing and falling with their double laughter, her delight being his.” Read more…

“In the Land of Double Narrative”
Tikkun, May 2011

“We are in the Olive Room of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem for a meeting with two history teachers — an Israeli and a Palestinian — who have written a double narrative of this land. The Israeli, Eyal Naveh, in his open-necked shirt, has a casual toughness you find in many Israelis over sixty, yet with keen, blue-grey eyes that are empathetic despite having fought seven wars to defend his right to stand here.” Read more…

“Telling the Truth that Matters”
Arts & Letters, Journal of Contemporary Culture, 2008

“When creative nonfiction writers tell a story more than one way, readers get suspicious. ‘Well, which is true?’ they ask, as if you’ve betrayed nonfiction and ‘creative’ really means fiction. Not so if you are Edouard Manet, I decided at the Museum of Modern Art, standing before his three giant paintings of the execution of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico in 1867. Each canvas included a firing squad, rifles taking aim, and one man looking away, but other ‘facts’ and the mood they evoked kept changing.” Read more…