Author Archives : Marla Cohen

The bluest sky

It doesn’t seem like much, a brush, a razor and a medium-sized manila envelope, given the weight of other items in the massive exhibit at the National September 11 Museum & Memorial that tells the story of that awful day. They are such quotidian items—the type of things you don’t think about, elevated to relic—in […]

Hamilton, Broadway tickets and the American dream

A few months ago, it finally sank in that I was more likely to come up with a winning Powerball ticket than score affordable tickets to see “Hamilton,” the Broadway blockbuster about the one founding father who did NOT serve as U.S. president. Why tickets to a play about the staunch Federalist who was recognized […]

Confronting Palestine on campus 1

When my daughter and her friends were setting up for a Students for Israel event at Hunter College, they brought enthusiasm, informational materials and a very thick skin. That’s because for some students at CUNY, if you’re a Zionist, you’re a murderer. And you definitely do not belong at the City University of New York. A […]

A room of one’s own–at the Kotel

Next time I go to Israel, I want to read Torah at the Kotel. I want to lead davening, or prayer, the way I do at New City Jewish Center. I want to don tefillin the way I did at The Bayit in Riverdale, without any of that group of Orthodox women batting an eye. […]

Zaftig Barbie and the American Jewish experience

We’re visiting my mother’s cousin Reba, and I’m pretty excited because I get to play with her daughter’s Barbie. Shari is in high school, and uninterested in her Barbie, which is the real deal original. She has blond hair, swept into a curly ponytail, her face framed by curly bangs. Heavily lined eyes cast an […]

My left foot (A cautionary tale of Dr. Google) 4

I was wrestling myself into a pair of brown opaque tights when I noticed the lump. It wasn’t terribly large. But to me, it looked huge, perched on the front arch of my ankle when I pointed my toe. If I stood flat-footed, it disappeared, receding between two tendons, hidden from sight. I finished dressing […]

Recalling Pearl Harbor with Chanukah light

Today is the first day of Chanukah, which celebrates the rededication of the Temple after a three-year revolt by the Maccabees against the Syrian Hellenists. It commemorates a military victory, of one tiny army over the might of the Greeks, one in which the Jewish people overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. But today, we also commemorate […]

It’s all in your head. Or on it. 1

“Upset us. It’s good for our health.” That’s what Ann responded after I’d asked whether I needed to wear a head covering in her shul for her daughter Gavriella’s bat mitzvah. Ann and her husband, James, belong to the Bayit, a very progressive but nonetheless Orthodox congregation in Riverdale, founded by the activist rabbi, Avi […]

Voyage of the damned

His name was Aylan Kurdi. He was three years old. He died when the boat carrying his family from Turkey to Greece capsized, filled with refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. Aylan’s mother and five-year-old brother died, too. His lifeless body, dressed in a red T-shirt and shorts, washed up on the Turkish shore, buffeted by waves. […]

The donor prayer

One of my favorite parts of the weekly Shabbat service follows the Torah and haftarah readings where we bless the congregation. After reciting one prayer asking for “the blessings of heaven,” kindness, compassion, long life, ample sustenance, health and healthy children, we move on to what I fondly think of as “the donor prayer.” Siddur […]