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In My Own Words: Remembering Larry by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

July 2020 marks the 10th yahrzeit (anniversary of death) of my little brother Larry. He was six-and-a-half years younger than me and a very important part of my life from the time he was born until the day he died.

Larry was born with a hole in his heart and developmental disabilities, in h…

In My Own Words: Changing the police force by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

I grew up with mixed feelings about the police. On the one hand, I was told that the police were the ones who would help me if I was lost or in danger. On the other hand, music from the Broadway show “Fiorello,” which tells the story of Fiorello La Guardia, regularly played in our househ…

From the Desk of the Federation Executive Director: With gratitude 6/12/20

Disheartened, sad, angry and scared for the next generation: these are some of the feelings my neighbor and I discussed this morning. She was out walking her dog with tears in her eyes. “The world feels heavy right now,” I said to her. She nodded her agreement. Recreation Park was destro…

In My Own Words: What defines our identity by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

I’ve written before in this column that I have no desire to have my DNA tested. That non-desire has been confirmed by the fascinating book “The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are” by Libby Copeland (Abrams Press). Copeland’s book contains a great deal of scientific m…

In My Own Words: Identity by Rabbi Rachel Esserman

I had difficulty at first remembering the new way to speak about my disability. Instead of saying, “I am hearing impaired,” I learned I was supposed to say, “I have a hearing impairment.” The idea was to change the way I defined myself – I am a person with a disability, rather than…