This end-of-year selection for 2022 shines a light on a handful of strongly-written posts that leave lasting impressions. Although we had a great deal of powerful content on the recent elections and so many other urgent topics, this collection steers away from politics and daily current events in general (well, mostly), and addresses broader themes.
I am supremely grateful for all the writers who keep this platform humming with ideas and perspectives, stories and testimonies, pictures and poetry and who are collectively telling the complex story of Israel and the region, and Jewish life and thought.
Do check out and enjoy these pieces that rocked my world. I’d love to have your feedback and see the posts you recommend in the comments section.
It wasn’t too long ago that people could simply get lost forever – not “lost” in the euphemistic sense of dying, but lost like a coin or a sock or a pet parrot that flew out the window. Or like a child in a busy seaport. This post tells a (very Jewish) story that starts with that kind of loss and changes a family’s course for generations to come.
The incredible story of a Jewish family’s journey from Europe to South Africa, a mother who never gave up on her child, and the 7-year-olds who are his descendants
If you take your humor black with a shot of love, read this post where the reenactment by adult siblings of their childhood rivalries and petty jealousies helps ward off angst over a parent’s mortality.
My mother’s demand that we all decide now what we want to inherit goes against my religion of denial – but I’ll take the pink set
As a committed Orthodox Jew with a wife, children and prominent position as a Jewish educator, Mark Shinar had no reason to upend his life…except for one. And it was big. His post about coming out of the closet as gay (which itself was part of his coming-out process) conveys the nuance and complexity of living with gremlins – and choosing not to.
I’ve done the very best I could to avoid facing what many of my childhood bullies already knew: their vocabulary – gay, fag, homo – was painfully laced with truth
Half a year into the bloodshed unleashed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Alla Borisova-Linetskaya went to St. Petersburg and found a city out of step with the drumbeat of war. The piece she wrote captures the mood – in the streets, cafes, and taxis – of leery Russians in retreat from the news.
A visit to the ‘Paris of Russian provinces’ finds a somber city seemingly averse to the poison of Putin’s propaganda
The acquaintance who shared a video with Ori Golan could not have known it would lead to a profoundly emotional reunion with a beloved teacher from his childhood in Jerusalem. This is the story of a child in crisis rescued by a young woman who preserved her capacity for kindness despite enduring the horrors of the Holocaust.
I was about to switch off the clip after watching the horrific story of a Holocaust survivor from Lodz, Poland, but decided to read the credits
In 2021, Shira Pasternak Be’eri’s husband survived sudden cardiac arrest due to the fast-thinking intervention of deeply compassionate and highly competent strangers. Shira’s post, a year after his near-death, relates how the couple showed their profound gratitude to the ad hoc rescue team, a team that reflects Israel’s human tapestry.
Shira Pasternak Be’eri
A meetup with rescuers revealed the Israel we dream about but so rarely see — a place of goodness, giving and caring that transcends national and cultural boundaries
History is not written by the victors alone, it’s also written by the nudniks. The ones who notice the void where there should be a museum or a monument or a plaque or anything marking a site of events that must never be forgotten. Such is Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, a Polish poet and psychedelic rocker on a mission of remembrance.
Residents of this Polish city and tourists who visit it should know about the hell that some people inflicted on other people in this place during World War II
On the morning of November 23, when bombings at two bus stops in Jerusalem killed two people, Rachel Sharansky Danziger received a phone call from one of her children. It prompted this eloquent post about how to live life in the shadow of trauma.
Rachel Sharansky Danziger
The familiarity of today’s explosions weighs me down. I don’t want my children to have to know this. I don’t want my traumas to be theirs
In this moving essay, Rabbi Daniel Landes recounts the day of – and then the dazed days following – the 2002 terror attack that killed nine, including two of his students from the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem. The post captures the disjointed experience of living through calamity alongside mundane and even joyous events.
Rabbi Daniel Landes
I dream of them every year, remembering his rough veneer and heart of gold, her brilliance and generosity – and how I called their parents with the terrible news
In June, the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion and the landmark decision led many women to relate experiences they’d once considered private. Here, Karen Feuer tells the emotionally complex story of her unsustainable pregnancy – and champions open conversation on a topic that affects so many.
It’s time to talk openly: We wanted a miracle, but my life was at risk, and the rabbi was clear. Thanks to him, we saved my health and my reproductive future
When Grant Gochin went in search of his grandmother’s life story, he dug deep, eventually piecing together a tragic tale of displacement – while also finding living relatives and proving that “they tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat,” is not just a punchline.
When your grandmother’s last words make it clear that she’s not who you thought she was, you are willing to move all the mountains in Europe to get to the truth
Remember the revelations that the Israeli Police used NSO spyware on civilians for years without oversight? Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler was among those who sounded the alarm on this platform, and she did it eloquently in this post that’s worth (re)reading to remind ourselves that, so far, there is no indication the situation has changed.
Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler
They hacked into the very souls of Israeli citizens illegally, without public oversight, and, most troubling of all, claim it was approved by the Attorney General