Selected Essays

“Changing Lanes”
Short Reads, May 2023

“Why don’t they fix the window?” I almost asked when I started coming to this pool, part of Princeton University. It was 6:30 a.m., right after New Year’s Day, and the place was packed with the before-­work crowd. The window, fifteen feet above my head, was wide open and snow was falling on the locker room floor. (No Berber carpet like at the YMCA, no sauna or built-in hair dryers either.) But the two coeds who were changing clothes on either side of me—young, flat-bellied, and high-­bosomed—seemed unconcerned, so I kept my mouth shut, changed quickly. If that’s what it takes, post-forty, to get in shape at a high-powered pool, so be it.
Read more…


“The Power of Other Voices in Creative Nonfiction”
Assay, Fall 2023

“Creative Nonfiction, especially in first person, puts a human face on history in ways that most history books do not.  Rather than make universal claims—This is what happened—the writer says, “This is the world as experienced it.” If done well, readers will follow the I into that world of people and events they may not have considered before, confronting issues, even hot button issues, they may have avoided. Personal stories, well-told, have the power to cross boundaries of difference and discover what we have in common, which leads to more understanding and more empathy for those unlike ourselves.”    Read more…


My Tante Hilda”
Ploughshares, Winter 2022-2023

“My Tante Hilde lived for over fifty years in a moshav across the road from an Israeli Arab village north of Acre. After every war, suicide bombing, and assassination, she would shake her head and say, “If it weren’t for the leaders, this wouldn’t happen!” She was talking about what she knew personally: the Arab families whose weddings she attended; the Arab boys who rode horseback with her son, Mordechai, into the Galilean hills; the man, Salach, who worked in and later managed the moshav’s dairy barn. During the Six Day War in 1967, as the radio blared warnings of Arab uprisings, Salach showed up as usual.” Read more…


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…


“In the Land of Double Narrative”
Tikkun, May 13, 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…


“Close Call”
Ninth Letter, featured essay

“Last time, I considered myself lucky. I told the judge that I live in Princeton, am a writer and professor, and my mother had been robbed at gunpoint in a parking garage—and heard, “Thank you for your services #6.” End of jury duty.” Read more…