Twenty-six years ago today, my father died.

It feels odd acknowledging this anniversary today, because time has worn away at the emotional pain and shock I experienced the night my father died. On the tenth anniversary of Dad's passing, my family took out an In Memoriam ad in the New York Times, which Mom appreciated. Today, Mom is also gone, and in a way posting here is much more of an acknowledgement of this momentous anniversary than taking out an ad in a newspaper.

I tend to think Dad was a fascinating person. He was born in December 1929, in the wake of the stock market collapse, and so grew up during the Depression, which affected his outlook for the rest of his life. When he was almost ten years old, he attended the 1939 New York City World's Fair, and fell in love with the visions of the future it presented. He graduated as valedictorian of DeWitt Clinton High School (which was in Manhattan at the time, I think) and started college at Columbia, where he was editor of the college newspaper, The Spectator.

But while he was in his teenage years and World War II was raging, news of the Holocaust came to the United States. My grandfather was a rabbi, and my Dad grew up in a religious household; but the Holocaust caused him to lose his faith in God and to break away from religion.

On the other hand, he felt a strong connection to the Jewish people. In the 1940s he ran guns to the nascent Jewish state of Israel, and then he dropped out of college, never finishing, in order to smuggle himself into Israel and fight in the 1948 War for Independence.

Dad was dedicated to journalism and newspapers. He used to like to quote Thomas Jefferson, who once said that he would rather have newspapers without government than government without newspapers. Dad spent his life working at a whole variety of newspapers in New York City. In the midst of all this, he married his first wife, Evelyn, and had two sons, my half-brothers David and Daniel. Eventually, Dad and Evelyn divorced. He met my mother Eleanor, married her, and had three more sons: Jonathan, Michael, and Joshua.

By the time I knew him, Dad had been working at the New York Daily News for many years. In 1990, the Daily News unions were locked out and so once again went on strike against the owner of the paper, the Chicago Tribune Company. Dad was in the Newspaper Guild union office twenty years ago when he collapsed of a heart attack and was pronounced dead at St. Claire's Hospital. My brothers and I were in the Boston area at the time -- Jon in medical school, Josh and me in college. Jon and Josh were on a train home already because my father's mother had just died the day before, and they were going to NYC to be with my Dad for her funeral. We had no way of knowing that on Sunday, November 4, we would attend one funeral after another, with print and TV reporters gathered with our friends and family, the media there to report on my father's death as another tragic story.

My father was a strong believer in justice, in supporting the powerless against the powerful. Two months before he died, I marched with him in the NYC Labor Day Parade. The Greyhound bus drivers were on strike, and Dad – who always kept an eye on family finances – donated money to their fund without blinking. After he died, I found among his personal papers articles he had clipped about a Mohawk tribe in upstate New York struggling to get a piece of land back from the federal government. Dad always shared stories like that with us, to remind us that the fight for justice was a neverending battle.

Dad had been a reader of science fiction and comic books when he was growing up; by the time I knew him, he mostly read mysteries. But he inculcated in me a love of science fiction, and my one regret about my own writing is that he never got to read it. But his spirit infuses every word I write.

Yom Kippur begins tonight, and I haven't really had the time since Rosh Hashanah to contemplate what that should mean for me spiritually. What with my current schedule at work and the other usual chaos in my life, I've mostly only been able to plan for the basic necessities of keeping the holiday and the associated fast. (Truth to tell, Nomi has done more of the planning and preparation than I have.)

However, there's another way I've been looking at it, which is that I actually spent much of last year (on the Hebrew calendar) getting ready for Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, and part of the tradition is to seek forgiveness to those you have wronged (and to grant forgiveness to those who have wronged you). In general, we should all strive to be better people each and every day, but the Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur is specifically called out as a good time to do this. Many people during this time post general statements asking for forgiveness from those they have wronged.

I took this concept a step further last year, and oddly, it was spurred on because of my Harvard 25th reunion. As reunion was approaching last spring, I started to think about some of the wrongs I myself had committed upon friends and acquaintances, especially those in my class. I actually made a mental list and sought out those people at reunion to apologize for things I had done years ago.

I didn't limit my apologies to those classmates, though. I had one high school classmate as well whom I felt I had wrong, so I wrote a letter of apology and mailed it out. But in general, I made my apologies in person to my college classmates.

I discovered to my fascination that although my wrongs had weighed heavily on my mind for these past twenty-five years, almost every classmate found them irrelevant. One classmate remembered the event I wanted to apologize for but she dismissed it. Another classmate didn't even remember what I had done to him, but understood why I apologized and gave his forgiveness anyway. Essentially, I rediscovered the old adage that sometimes the person who commits the wrong is hurt by it more than the person who was wronged.

My classmates literally had forgotten or stopped caring about wrongs I had done to them, and I was carrying the burden of guilt for over two decades.
As it is, there are still apologies I want to make and for all I know, there are people out there to whom I need to apologize but will never realize it. All I can really do this Yom Kippur is my best. But because of my experiences this past year, I think I will be able to once again find some meaning in this holiday.

For those of you who are also observing, have an easy fast and may it be meaningful for you.

Happy Independence Day to my fellow citizens of the United States of America! On this day, among other things, I think of the story of George Washington's letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790. This letter is one of the great American documents, in which the first president of the United States made it clear that this was to be a country with religious freedom for all:

"It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."

If you'd like to learn more, here are some links:

Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport (from Teaching American History)

In observance of Yom HaShoah, I link to my short story "Kaddish for the Last Survivor." (Continued thanks to Apex Publications for continuing to keep it available for anyone to read on their site.)
It's hard for me to believe, but 60 years ago today my maternal grandfather Louis Cohen died of multiple myeloma far too young.. (On the Hebrew calendar, Louis died on 19 Shevat 5716, so his yahrzeit was a few days ago.)

Sadly, I never knew him. I'd like to share his story.

Louis Cohen was born in Ukraine. I've seen his birth certificate; it's in Russian.

Louis emigrated to the United States when he was around the age of six or seven years old, with his parents, Jacob Cohen & Yetta Sokolovsky, and his younger sister, Molly Cohen. The family settled in Brownsville, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that was attracting a lot of Jewish immigrants and was considered a nicer place to live than the Lower East Side. Jacob got a job delivering canisters for soda water, and eventually he bought the business. My mom remembered that he made his deliveries driving a green truck.

Although Louis did not know English when he emigrated, he picked it up very quickly. Apparently, as a child he started school in a special class in which the students mostly did arts and crafts. But with his ability to learn English quickly he soon moved into a regular class. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, went on to Pace Institute for two or three years, and became an accountant. He began keeping the books for his father Jacob.

In 1929, his parents bought a house in Flatbush for the whole family, located at 817 East 45th Street between Avenue D and Foster Avenue. On June 1, 1930, Louis married my grandmother Clara Baker in Boston. They were fourth cousins; either their grandfathers or great grandfathers were brothers. After they got married, they moved in with his parents. Furthermore, my Mom's aunt Molly married Irving Bell, a dentist who went to Tufts Dental School, and they also lived in the Jacob Cohen house. Apparently it was not uncommon for a large extended family to stay under one roof for such a long time.

Louis and Clara had two children. My Mom was born in 1936 and my uncle Robert was born a few years after.

Sometime in the 1940s Louis joined the Masons. As he was in his thirties, he was a little too old to be drafted into World War II. In fact, he kept missing the window to be drafted, for which he was very grateful.

Around 1945 Louis joined the law firm of Morrit & Eisenstein and did their accounting and the accounting for their clients. Later on, lawyer Fred Johnson also joined the firm, and the four of them worked very closely together. Mom tells me that Fred Morrit was a State Senator and a songwriter, but I haven't been able to find much information about him, or about Morris Eisenstein.

One thing that makes me proud of my grandfather has to do with his support for my mom. In the 1950s, there was no major emphasis on women's education, but Louis supported Mom's education wholeheartedly. He was very proud of her, and even though he didn't want her to leave home he did support her decision to attend Mount Holyoke college. Mom only spent a year there, though, because soon after she started college Louis died. When that happened, Mom came home and transferred to Barnard so she could live with her family.

Louis died of multiple myeloma at age of 50, knowing that he had helped raise and support two wonderful children. Sadly, both of Louis's parents were still alive when he died. They passed on themselves in the early 1960s, while my mother was in law school.

I remember him.

Twenty-five years ago today, my father died.

It feels odd acknowledging this anniversary today, because time has worn away at the emotional pain and shock I experienced the night my father died. Fifteen years ago, on the tenth anniversary of Dad's passing, my family took out an In Memoriam ad in the New York Times, which Mom appreciated. Today, Mom is also gone, and in a way posting here is much more of an acknowledgement of this momentous anniversary than taking out an ad in a newspaper.

I tend to think Dad was a fascinating person. He was born in December 1929, in the wake of the stock market collapse, and so grew up during the Depression, which affected his outlook for the rest of his life. When he was almost ten years old, he attended the 1939 New York City World's Fair, and fell in love with the visions of the future it presented. He graduated as valedictorian of DeWitt Clinton High School (which was in Manhattan at the time, I think) and started college at Columbia, where he was editor of the college newspaper, The Spectator.

But while he was in his teenage years and World War II was raging, news of the Holocaust came to the United States. My grandfather was a rabbi, and my Dad grew up in a religious household; but the Holocaust caused him to lose his faith in God and to break away from religion.

On the other hand, he felt a strong connection to the Jewish people. In the 1940s he ran guns to the nascent Jewish state of Israel, and then he dropped out of college, never finishing, in order to smuggle himself into Israel and fight in the 1948 War for Independence.

Dad was dedicated to journalism and newspapers. He used to like to quote Thomas Jefferson, who once said that he would rather have newspapers without government than government without newspapers. Dad spent his life working at a whole variety of newspapers in New York City. In the midst of all this, he married his first wife, Evelyn, and had two sons, my half-brothers David and Daniel. Eventually, Dad and Evelyn divorced. He met my mother Eleanor, married her, and had three more sons: Jonathan, Michael, and Joshua.

By the time I knew him, Dad had been working at the New York Daily News for many years. In 1990, the Daily News unions were locked out and so once again went on strike against the owner of the paper, the Chicago Tribune Company. Dad was in the Newspaper Guild union office twenty years ago when he collapsed of a heart attack and was pronounced dead at St. Claire's Hospital. My brothers and I were in the Boston area at the time -- Jon in medical school, Josh and me in college. Jon and Josh were on a train home already because my father's mother had just died the day before, and they were going to NYC to be with my Dad for her funeral. We had no way of knowing that on Sunday, November 4, we would attend one funeral after another, with print and TV reporters gathered with our friends and family, the media there to report on my father's death as another tragic story.

My father was a strong believer in justice, in supporting the powerless against the powerful. Two months before he died, I marched with him in the NYC Labor Day Parade. The Greyhound bus drivers were on strike, and Dad – who always kept an eye on family finances – donated money to their fund without blinking. After he died, I found among his personal papers articles he had clipped about a Mohawk tribe in upstate New York struggling to get a piece of land back from the federal government. Dad always shared stories like that with us, to remind us that the fight for justice was a neverending battle.

Dad had been a reader of science fiction and comic books when he was growing up; by the time I knew him, he mostly read mysteries. But he inculcated in me a love of science fiction, and my one regret about my own writing is that he never got to read it. But his spirit infuses every word I write.

To quote [livejournal.com profile] gnomi:

New holiday-themed The Brookline Parent column up! Read about how Muffin and Squeaker celebrate Sukkot!
In honor of Yom HaShoah today, I link again to Kaddish for the Last Survivor.
Tonight and tomorrow is the yahrzeit (Hebrew anniversary of the death) of my maternal grandfather Louis Cohen, who passed away from multiple myeloma far too young.

Sadly, I never knew him. I'd like to share his story.

Louis Cohen was born in Ukraine. I've seen his birth certificate; it's in Russian.

Louis emigrated to the United States when he was around the age of six or seven years old, with his parents, Jacob Cohen & Yetta Sokolovsky, and his younger sister, Molly Cohen. The family settled in Brownsville, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that was attracting a lot of Jewish immigrants and was considered a nicer place to live than the Lower East Side. Jacob got a job delivering canisters for soda water, and eventually he bought the business. My mom remembered that he made his deliveries driving a green truck.

Although Louis did not know English when he emigrated, he picked it up very quickly. Apparently, as a child he started school in a special class in which the students mostly did arts and crafts. But with his ability to learn English quickly he soon moved into a regular class. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, went on to Pace Institute for two or three years, and became an accountant. He began keeping the books for his father Jacob.

In 1929, his parents bought a house in Flatbush for the whole family, located at 817 East 45th Street between Avenue D and Foster Avenue. On June 1, 1930, Louis married my grandmother Clara Baker in Boston. They were fourth cousins; either their grandfathers or great grandfathers were brothers. After they got married, they moved in with his parents. Furthermore, my Mom's aunt Molly married Irving Bell, a dentist who went to Tufts Dental School, and they also lived in the Jacob Cohen house. Apparently it was not uncommon for a large extended family to stay under one roof for such a long time.

Louis and Clara had two children. My Mom was born in 1936 and my uncle Robert was born a few years after.

Sometime in the 1940s Louis joined the Masons. As he was in his thirties, he was a little too old to be drafted into World War II. In fact, he kept missing the window to be drafted, for which he was very grateful.

Around 1945 Louis joined the law firm of Morrit & Eisenstein and did their accounting and the accounting for their clients. Later on, lawyer Fred Johnson also joined the firm, and the four of them worked very closely together. Mom tells me that Fred Morrit was a State Senator and a songwriter, but I haven't been able to find much information about him, or about Morris Eisenstein.

One thing that makes me proud of my grandfather has to do with his support for my mom. In the 1950s, there was no major emphasis on women's education, but Louis supported Mom's education wholeheartedly. He was very proud of her, and even though he didn't want her to leave home he did support her decision to attend Mount Holyoke college. Mom only spent a year there, though, because soon after she started college Louis died. When that happened, Mom came home and transferred to Barnard so she could live with her family.

Louis died of multiple myeloma at age of 50, knowing that he had helped raise and support two wonderful children. Sadly, both of Louis's parents were still alive when he died. They passed on themselves in the early 1960s, while my mother was in law school.

On the Hebrew calendar, Louis died on 19 Shevat 5716. Tonight and tomorrow are 19 Shevat 5774.

I remember him.
A few weeks ago, I was asked (or I volunteered) to write a blog post about a class that [livejournal.com profile] gnomi and I are taking called Parenting Through a Jewish Lens. Here's the link to the post, called So Much More Than Bagels. Although a bagel would taste good right about now...
My annual holiday message:

Tomorrow, of course, is Christmas. If you're celebrating Christmas, may you have a merry one, full of happiness.

It's also Isaac Newton's birthday, something I always like to commemorate given my background in Physics.

And back in the month of November, I celebrated the festival of Chanukah. Let's take each of these in turn.

Read more... )

So that's it. To all my Christian friends, as I said before, may you have a merry and joyous Christmas. To all my Jewish friends, I hope you had a happy Chanukah. To all my friends who celebrate some other holiday of the season, may it be for good. And for those of my friends who celebrate no holiday at all, may you enjoy a good start to the Gregorian New Year of 2014.
Today, of course, is Christmas. If you're celebrating Christmas, may you have a merry one, full of happiness.

It's also Isaac Newton's birthday, something I always like to commemorate given my background in Physics.

And earlier in the month of December, I celebrated the festival of Chanukah. Let's take each of these in turn.

Read more... )

So that's it. To all my Christian friends, as I said before, may you have a merry and joyous Christmas. To all my Jewish friends, I hope you had a happy Chanukah. To all my friends who celebrate some other holiday of the season, may it be for good. And for those of my friends who celebrate no holiday at all, may you enjoy a good start to the Gregorian New Year of 2013.
Twenty-two years ago this Friday, my father died.

I'm noting it today instead of Friday because his yahrzeit, or the Hebrew anniversary of his passing, is actually today, which on the Hebrew calendar is the 15th of Cheshvan.

Time has worn away at the emotional pain and shock I experienced the night my father died. It's an odd day to think about Dad's passing because life is busy. What with Hurricane Sandy, an upcoming election, and my usual attempts at a life-work balance, there's a lot going on. But I want to remember him, so here's a short piece about my Dad and his life, to share once again with the world.

I tend to think Dad was a fascinating person. He was born in December 1929, in the wake of the stock market collapse, and so grew up during the Depression, which affected his outlook for the rest of his life. When he was almost ten years old, he attended the 1939 New York City World's Fair, and fell in love with the visions of the future it presented. He graduated as valedictorian of DeWitt Clinton High School (which was in Manhattan at the time, I think) and started college at Columbia, where he was editor of the college newspaper, The Spectator.

But while he was in his teenage years and World War II was raging, news of the Holocaust came to the United States. My grandfather was a rabbi, and my Dad grew up in a religious household; but the Holocaust caused him to lose his faith in God and to break away from religion.

On the other hand, he felt a strong connection to the Jewish people. In the 1940s he ran guns to the nascent Jewish state of Israel, and then he dropped out of college, never finishing, in order to smuggle himself into Israel and fight in the 1948 War for Independence.

Dad was dedicated to journalism and newspapers. He used to like to quote Thomas Jefferson, who once said that he would rather have newspapers without government than government without newspapers. Dad spent his life working at a whole variety of newspapers in New York City. In the midst of all this, he married his first wife, Evelyn, and had two sons, my half-brothers David and Daniel. Eventually, Dad and Evelyn divorced. He met my mother Eleanor, married her, and had three more sons: Jonathan, Michael, and Joshua.

By the time I knew him, Dad had been working at the New York Daily News for many years. In 1990, the Daily News unions were locked out and so once again went on strike against the owner of the paper, the Chicago Tribune Company. Dad was in the Newspaper Guild union office twenty years ago when he collapsed of a heart attack and was pronounced dead at St. Claire's Hospital. My brothers and I were in the Boston area at the time -- Jon in medical school, Josh and me in college. Jon and Josh were on a train home already because my father's mother had just died the day before, and they were going to NYC to be with my Dad for her funeral. We had no way of knowing that on Sunday, November 4, we would attend one funeral after another, with print and TV reporters gathered with our friends and family, the media there to report on my father's death as another tragic story.

My father was a strong believer in justice, in supporting the powerless against the powerful. Two months before he died, I marched with him in the NYC Labor Day Parade. The Greyhound bus drivers were on strike, and Dad – who always kept an eye on family finances – donated money to their fund without blinking. After he died, I found among his personal papers articles he had clipped about a Mohawk tribe in upstate New York struggling to get a piece of land back from the federal government. Dad always shared stories like that with us, to remind us that the fight for justice was a neverending battle.

Dad had been a reader of science fiction and comic books when he was growing up; by the time I knew him, he mostly read mysteries. But he inculcated in me a love of science fiction, and my one regret about my own writing is that he never got to read it. His spirit infuses every word I write.

Finally, he would have loved his granddaughters Muffin and Squeaker. I can only hope I am able to convey to them as they grow up how much he would have loved them.

Copyright © Michael A. Burstein
In the year 2000, I wrote a scene for the story "Kaddish for the Last Survivor," in which the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor gets a tattoo on her arm to honor her grandfather. The story, which appeared in the November 2000 Analog, was nominated for the Hugo and the Nebula and is probably my best-known story.

Just last week, the New York Times ran an article about people doing this for real.

I've posted my thoughts on this at the Apex blog today.

5773

Sep. 16th, 2012 08:26 am
For those of my friends who will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah, shana tova! May 5773 be a good year for all of us and all the world.
Last year, for our The Brookline Parent column at Brookline Patch around this time, [livejournal.com profile] gnomi discussed Passover. In particular, in her column Four Answers for Two Toddlers, she discussed how we made Passover special for Muffin and Squeaker given that their bedtime was well before the seders began.

Well, this year, the girls are one year older, and this time, we decided that they could deal with the later bedtime that comes with attending seder. For a special treat as we end the chol ha'moed, or intermediate days, of Passover, Brookline Patch is publishing Nomi's column one day early. It Was, In Fact, Just About Enough For Us describes how the girls responded to family seder two nights in a row. Hint: Dayenu is the new Ma Nishtana. (As Tom Lehrer might say, the rest of you can look up when you get home.)

Click on the link, to see a cute picture of the girls eating homemade cookie bars if nothing else. (Click on the picture itself to see the amusing caption...)
In my last The Brookline Parent column at Brookline Patch, the one before Nomi's column two weeks ago, I discussed "Bad Parenting." One of my concerns was whether or not I'm letting the girls watch too much television, even if we do keep some control over it.

How much television our kids should watch – indeed, whether or not we should let them watch television in the first place – is a question that has plagued me almost from their birth. In my column, I discuss a little bit of my previous experience with the idea of toddlers watching television. But I only briefly touch on the possible hypocrisy I feel I'm indulging in by curtailing their own television viewing when I enjoy TV shows myself. Intellectually, I know that I shouldn't feel this way, as their brains are still developing and it's far better for them to engage in active play and reading. I also am concerned when they fight me at the end of a program, and have a tantrum if I refuse to show them another episode of Dora or another Sesame Street video on YouTube. So part of me thinks I should keep them away from TV completely. But, you know, I want them to enjoy many of the same things I enjoyed as a kid, shows like Star Trek and M*A*S*H, although I do wonder if they will come to like them the same way I did.

At the very least, with our lifestyle they've learned that we don't watch "videos" or "pictures" on the Jewish sabbath, and I think they've come to accept that.

I know that as a kid I watched a lot of TV, and I wonder – did it really do me any harm? How could I possibly quantify it? The answer is, I can't. I'd have to go back in time and repeat the experiment by having an earlier me not watch TV and see how I turn out. I guess at any moment in life we simply play the hand we're dealt.

I will note one final thing with amusement. Since all of Muffin and Squeaker's TV watching is via tablet computer, they really have no idea what that old CRT box in the corner of the living room actually does. When they were playing the iPad app My PlayHome, a virtual doll house, they discovered they could turn on the TV set in the doll house's living room, and the little screen would start to show images of a program for the doll house family to watch. Muffin and Squeaker, who are quite familiar with many of the other virtual appliances presented in the doll house, had no idea what that box was. If they don't know that the TV box can be such a big distraction to them, I feel like I may have succeeded in some small way.

Go read Telling Off Television to see what else I have to say. Also, there are cute pictures with funny captions. And take the poll!
In our latest The Brookline Parent column at Brookline Patch, Nomi discusses how Muffin and Squeaker celebrate Chanukah. You'd think that they only celebrate Chanukah during the same eight days that the rest of us do, but you'd be wrong. For Muffin and Squeaker, Chanukah is celebrated all year round.

Here's the link to the column this week, Not Even Eight is Enough. Enjoy! And while you're there or here, are there any other holidays you know of that people celebrate all throughout the year?
Twenty-one years ago today, my father died.

It feels odd acknowledging this anniversary today, because time has worn away at the emotional pain and shock I experienced the night my father died. It's also an odd day to think about Dad's passing because life is busy. There's a lot going on. And his yahrzeit, or the Hebrew anniversary of his passing, is not until November 12 this year, and I tend to feel this anniversary more on the Hebrew calendar than the Gregorian one. But I want to remember him, so here's a short piece about my Dad and his life, to share once again with the world.

I tend to think Dad was a fascinating person. He was born in December 1929, in the wake of the stock market collapse, and so grew up during the Depression, which affected his outlook for the rest of his life. When he was almost ten years old, he attended the 1939 New York City World's Fair, and fell in love with the visions of the future it presented. He graduated as valedictorian of DeWitt Clinton High School (which was in Manhattan at the time, I think) and started college at Columbia, where he was editor of the college newspaper, The Spectator.

But while he was in his teenage years and World War II was raging, news of the Holocaust came to the United States. My grandfather was a rabbi, and my Dad grew up in a religious household; but the Holocaust caused him to lose his faith in God and to break away from religion.

On the other hand, he felt a strong connection to the Jewish people. In the 1940s he ran guns to the nascent Jewish state of Israel, and then he dropped out of college, never finishing, in order to smuggle himself into Israel and fight in the 1948 War for Independence.

Dad was dedicated to journalism and newspapers. He used to like to quote Thomas Jefferson, who once said that he would rather have newspapers without government than government without newspapers. Dad spent his life working at a whole variety of newspapers in New York City. In the midst of all this, he married his first wife, Evelyn, and had two sons, my half-brothers David and Daniel. Eventually, Dad and Evelyn divorced. He met my mother Eleanor, married her, and had three more sons: Jonathan, Michael, and Joshua.

By the time I knew him, Dad had been working at the New York Daily News for many years. In 1990, the Daily News unions were locked out and so once again went on strike against the owner of the paper, the Chicago Tribune Company. Dad was in the Newspaper Guild union office twenty years ago when he collapsed of a heart attack and was pronounced dead at St. Claire's Hospital. My brothers and I were in the Boston area at the time -- Jon in medical school, Josh and me in college. Jon and Josh were on a train home already because my father's mother had just died the day before, and they were going to NYC to be with my Dad for her funeral. We had no way of knowing that on Sunday, November 4, we would attend one funeral after another, with print and TV reporters gathered with our friends and family, the media there to report on my father's death as another tragic story.

My father was a strong believer in justice, in supporting the powerless against the powerful. Two months before he died, I marched with him in the NYC Labor Day Parade. The Greyhound bus drivers were on strike, and Dad – who always kept an eye on family finances – donated money to their fund without blinking. After he died, I found among his personal papers articles he had clipped about a Mohawk tribe in upstate New York struggling to get a piece of land back from the federal government. Dad always shared stories like that with us, to remind us that the fight for justice was a neverending battle.

Dad had been a reader of science fiction and comic books when he was growing up; by the time I knew him, he mostly read mysteries. But he inculcated in me a love of science fiction, and my one regret about my own writing is that he never got to read it. But his spirit infuses every word I write.

Copyright © Michael A. Burstein
mabfan: (book-cover)
For those of you who are in the Orlando, Florida area...

As I think I mentioned here before, my friend David Strauss adapted my award-nominated short story "Kaddish for the Last Survivor" into a one-act play. The Playwrights' Round Table is performing the show this weekend and next as part of their Second Annual John Goring Memorial One Act Festival. If you click on the link, it will take you to the website for making reservations to attend.

The Orlando Sentinel ran a nice article about the play. In it, David talks about what drew him to adapt the story for the stage.

In the usual theatrical tradition, I wish "break a leg" to David, director Charles R. Dent, and the cast: Kristen Dewey (Sarah), Byron West (Joshua), Cynthia McLendon (Anna), Brian Groth (Tom), Mira Strauss (Young Sarah), and Candy Heller (Maxine).

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