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.
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