Travel Writing:

What Remains of Europe’s Jews

SienaSynintext“Visiting Chisinau’s Jewish neighborhood with my mother a few summers ago, I watched her soak up bittersweet memories of her childhood home while standing on the same street where the 1903 pogrom began. I followed her down dusty roads as she searched with almost childlike enthusiasm for places that bore no considerable historical significance but held great value to her. In the Jewish cemetery, we paid our respects at her grandparents’ graves, enshrined in a thick metal cage meant as protection from vandals. In the Chisinau ghetto, we saw the memorial to Jews killed in the Holocaust: a statue of an old man, standing like a ghost at the end of a street, shrouded in the gloom of a dusk without street lamps.”

Pros and Cons of Traveling to Italy


“You snag a great room in a small family-run pensione, where your room looks out onto a courtyard and everything is tranquil, but you’re woken up at 6:30 by the singsong voice of one of the employees announcing that he’s going to be mopping the hallway and then proceeding to elaborate on how he feels about that.”

Israel Never Stops Moving

1_1“Two young men who looked like the sort of guys you might find playing their guitars at a bonfire in college nonchalantly walked through carrying a human-sized loaf of challah on a gurney. Little boys in yarmulkes ran through the crowd past Orthodox men in solemn black suits as the elderly picked out fresh fruits to take home. A little band was walking by playing the flute and drums. Everyone felt the exciting hurry of finishing their shopping in time for Shabbat.”

Personal Essays:

How San Francisco Will Lose the Last of Us

Damian Brandon/

“…we understand that a real city, one that’s got the self-esteem of a real world-class place, is one that’s made up of every slice of society. A city without a middle class is a few bad days away from becoming the alternate 1985 Back to the Future II warned us about. A city without children is a city without a future and a city without the elderly is a city without a past. Without immigrants, we are a city with only one perspective. Without political opposites, we are a city with one opinion in an echo chamber. Without families, we are a city of self-serving millenials. Without millenials, we are a city without an ambitious workforce pushing us to create.”

On the Legacy of Elie Wiesel

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Wikimedia Commons / Elie Wiesel by Erling Mandelmann

“His passing leaves a deep void: in our humanity, our collective moral compass, and our hearts. I have always considered him to be one of the few truly good people in the world, someone who stood by his beliefs, who wasn’t afraid to stand up to greater powers in the name of what is right. Without him, our light is dimmed, our voice quieter.”


Tuvia Tenenbom, on Catch the Jew, Part 1

1_1 (2)Catch the Jew is vignettes, anecdotes, interviews, site visits, and so much more. It is insight into people’s psychology and a lesson in persistently asking questions, interspersed with the occasional suggestive joke.

Catch the Jew is not just a book about Israel. It is a book about the very imperfect but fascinating people who live there, the Europeans who come to ‘help,’ and the many lies surrounding the region. It is full of contradictions, surreal experiences, and situations so absurd they could only have come from the Middle East.”

Tuvia Tenenbom, on Catch the Jew, Part 2


“On the day I heard Tuvia Tenenbom give a talk, he leaned in to the first row and yelled slurs at a member of the audience. He was reenacting what had been yelled into his face by an anti-Israel protester at an event he covered. The audience chuckled uncomfortably but immediately recognized the narrative: either you’re a ‘good Jew’ who denounces Israel, or you’re a hateful stereotype of a Jew – ​evil, greedy, and ugly (in less kind words).”