Linda Pressman is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, and speaker. She was the Blog Editor of Poetica Magazine for three years, and is the author of Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie, which won the Grand Prize in the Writer's Digest 20th Annual Book Contest.
My husband and I are sitting across from another American couple on our way from ship to shore during our North Sea cruise. In order to get to this stop on the cruise, all the ship’s passengers…must travel by 100-person tenders to shore, so it is snug. We find ourselves knee to knee with another couple and our ears perk up at hearing English being spoken. On this multi-lingual cruise, it’s felt like we haven’t heard English for days. We say hello and share where we’re from. They say they’re from… >> Read More
There were obvious reasons I didn’t want to travel to Germany this summer. Actually, there were reasons I didn’t want to travel to Germany—ever. I planned to spend my life very happily visiting…all sorts of other places on the planet, but neatly avoiding that one country. I grew up with Survivor parents and Survivor grandparents, also Survivor aunts and uncles, all of whom talked about Germany a lot, mostly spitting over their shoulders or hissing in their voice towards the Nazis who marched out of that country… >> Read More
On June 28, 1998, my mother sat down to be interviewed for the Shoah Foundation. It was her 68th birthday.
The interview took two days. She and the interviewer sat comfortably in my mother’s…living room, her pride and joy. This was where she showcased her best furniture, the furniture she’d bought as a new homeowner in Skokie in 1960 and which had moved to Arizona with us in 1973. The room was filled with her most precious items: china and glassware, marble tables and ornate damask couches. These… >> Read More
This past February I got on a plane in Phoenix and got off in Los Angeles. I took an Uber to my hotel and the next morning I walked, with my phone’s GPS in my hand over to the location where my…four-day writing class would be meeting its first time. All alone. Why was this domestic trip such a big deal? Am I 5-years-old? A traveling unaccompanied minor? No. The reason why this was remarkable for me is because somehow, during the course of my 24-year marriage, I had stopped traveling alone and having stopped traveling… >> Read More
I’m sitting at a local modern Orthodox event for women only. I am surrounded by bewigged women wearing long skirts and layered tops–shells with shirts over them. I can tell they were born to the…life. Some of them look fashionably modest, others frumpily modest, but they all look modest. They look like knowing these rules of clothing and dress come to them naturally, maybe from birth. I am so jealous. I want to have been raised unquestionably Jewish, not Jewish in a Holocaust-ridden family that was moving away from… >> Read More
Being a child of immigrant Holocaust survivors, I grew up with some very strange foods. There were the traditional foods, all unable to be matched to whatever animal they had originated from—and…then the things that even the American kids in my neighborhood in Skokie, Illinois were familiar with, but called only by Yiddish names, to apparently increase our foreignness and isolate us from our American neighbors. Knowing only the Yiddish names for such common dishes as chicken leg (pulke) and chicken wing (fliegel), I ventured out… >> Read More
It first happened right after I got married. I was at a rundown antique mall and there it was: someone’s abandoned brass menorah, with Hebrew written on it, and made in Israel. The sales tag said…only, “Candelabra.” I bought it. Other purchases soon followed. Antique stores, thrift stores, rummage sales–it was like the Land of Misfit Toys in my house, but Misfit Judaica. Each time I ran into something, I felt a sense of obligation to rescue these once-loved objects, because who else but me would just happen to be… >> Read More
Just like Christmas shoppers hate to see a Christmas tree in Macy’s too soon, when I see the giant gefilte fish and matzah display at Costco in late February it sends me into a panic. Unlike the…Christmas shoppers, I don’t think about how the store is ruining or commercializing the holiday. I think, is it time for gefilte fish already? I think that finding the foods for this holiday, including that gigantic jar of gefilte fish, is not easy and so maybe I should stockpile now. I start thinking about how… >> Read More
It’s 1968, or 1978, basically anytime I’m with my mom in her lifetime and we’re out in public. Finicky about fabrics and proper attire, my mother always offered a choice opinion in Yiddish. If…they don’t speak the language, no big deal, she just mutters her criticisms to me in that tongue under her breath, criticisms so precise that they take my breath away: someone’s dress is plotzing (too tight), or it’s ongepotchked (over-ornamented), or it’s just drek (junk). We were an immigrant family, more immigrant in spirit when… >> Read More
I’m standing in a Judaica store in the middle of Scottsdale, Arizona watching as my daughter searches the store from top to bottom for the right tallis, or prayer shawl. Finding the right one is…apparently somewhat akin to finding the right wand in "Harry Potter" or the right wedding dress on "Say Yes to the Dress." She must be at one with the prayer shawl; the prayer shawl must feel at once like it was meant for her, like it grew out of her. Or maybe we could just make… >> Read More