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Miriam Herschlag
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Voices of 2022: A dozen posts that moved and shook us

Just in case you missed them: superb offerings from The Times of Israel blogs that touched hearts, stirred souls and nourished minds
Voices of 2022 (from top left): Rachel Sharansky Danziger, Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, Mark Shinar, Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, Karen Feuer, Guy Lieberman, Alla Borisova-Linetskaya, Ori Golan, Daniel Landes, Shira Pasternak Be'eri, Grant Arthur Gochin, Ruth Efroni
Voices of 2022 (from top left): Rachel Sharansky Danziger, Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, Mark Shinar, Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, Karen Feuer, Guy Lieberman, Alla Borisova-Linetskaya, Ori Golan, Daniel Landes, Shira Pasternak Be'eri, Grant Arthur Gochin, Ruth Efroni

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.


-1-

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.

When Abraham lost Israel: The saga of a missing child

Guy Lieberman
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

Lieberman family montage of 7-year-olds through the generations. In the background, Chisha and Issy Liberman. (Montage by Kim Lieberman ©)

-2-

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.

Confessions of a reluctant dish heiress

Ruth Efroni
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

Family with teacups. (Illustration by Avi Katz)

-3-

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.

Broken roads: Leadership, authenticity and sexuality

Mark Shinar
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


-4-

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.

In St. Petersburg, where all that’s left to trust is the rain

Alla Borisova-Linetskaya
A visit to the ‘Paris of Russian provinces’ finds a somber city seemingly averse to the poison of Putin’s propaganda

An approaching storm over the Neva river, Saint Petersburg, Russia. (iStock)

-5-

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.

When I was 7, Aliza was my savior. I just learned who she really was.

Ori Golan
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

Screenshot from ‘If Only Night Would Not Come’ The Story of Holocaust Survivor Aliza Landau produced by Yad Vashem

-6-

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.

The angels who saved my husband’s life

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

Leonard and his angels (Photo montage: Gil Be’eri)

-7-

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.

The forgotten ghetto in the heart of Gdansk

Grzegorz Kwiatkowski
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

Granary Island at the Motlawa river in Gdansk, Poland. (iStock)

-8-

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.

Once again, this terror

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

Scene of an explosion near the entrance to Jerusalem, on November 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

-9-

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.

Twenty years after Ben and Marla and the Hebrew University bombing

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


-10-

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.

My abortion story

Karen Feuer
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


-11-

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.

107 years late for dinner

Grant Gochin
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

Sonia Garrenbloom with her niece, Brocha Leya, and nephew Moshe (Morris). Probably taken in Ukraine in about 1919. (Personal archive)

-12-

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.

The NSO scandal should be an earthquake for the Israel Police

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

Police surveillance illustration by Avi Katz
About the Author
Opinion and Blogs editor at The Times of Israel (Cover photo needlework by Yocheved Herschlag Muffs.)
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