Monday, November 28, 2016


Note: another version of this article appears today on the Huffington Post 

VOLUNTEERS IN MEDICINE is a wonderful organization located in Western Massachusetts made up of doctors, dentists, therapists and other health providers who work for free. VIM serves much-needed medical care to people without health insurance. Tomorrow, they need your help!

“We are joining a national day of generosity called ‘Giving Tuesday,’” 
says spokeperson Jeff Bliss. “It’s a day when new donors can have a big impact on Volunteers in Medicine.” 

The group is looking for donors and volunteers so open up your checkbooks and if you're in the Berkshires, consider becoming a volunteer. I have volunteered for VIM in the past and it’s a fabulous operation. It makes your heart feel terrific just being there!

VIM is also asking that you pass the word through your friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

 “We’ll raise money to support all the volunteer doctors, dentists, and other healthcare workers who provide service in our medical and dental clinics,” says Bliss.

How can you be part of it? Here are a few simple ideas:

               Send a quick note to anyone you are willing to reach out to via email or social media. Ask them to go to VIM’s website and make a gift of any size to support the important free healthcare being provided. There are so many hard- working people who still cannot afford health insurance or who have recently have lost their insurance. 

               Encourage those you know to consider volunteering some time to help keep this clinic supported. Not only healthcare professionals, but receptionists, fundraisers, and other types of support are always welcome.

As all of us are sick to death with negative news (especially coming out of Donald Trump) here is a way to put yourself and your money to work. Donate on behalf of one of your loved ones or friends. Pass the word on via Facebook, email or whatever other social media you prefer!

It never ends,trump's lying!

i know i should try to be calm when writing but this morning's news from trump is overwhelming and sick. it makes it hard to breathe. how can we compete with his endless lies? the saddest thing is how many people on twitter will now believe what he is saying about winning the popular vote. it feels more and more like he is some kind of dictator and his words are just propaganda. there is no more to say except to repeat it over and over again and again and again how he lies how he lies how he lies

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Many years later, the mystery unfolds...

Here he is, many decades later, with a growing family.

Here he is with wife and daughter.


Here he is with grandson, Noah Kirsch.

Hurrah for Ric, father, grandfather and great grandfather who gets better with each passing year!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Who Is This Mystery Man?

In WWII, he served in Germany and Casablanca. Here he is on furlough in Paris, at the Arc de Triomphe.

In Morocco, he was assigned to the Military police.

Was he a spy? An actor playing a spy?

Or just one handsome American boy rocking around Europe after the war.

Here he is shortly after the war, working as a radio broadcaster. More often than not, he operated out of his car.

Who is this mystery man?

All will be revealed. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Don't Just Sit There Scared Shitless

Ok it's taken me all this time to listen to Jon Oliver's extraordinary "Last Week" show. It's been impossible for me to look at HIM (strawberry hair yellow face and clown-like and mean disposition) and to think he will replace Barack Obama (coffee skin, black white curly hair, funny and low-key disposition) The thought of Melania at the swearing in is too much to contemplate so I don't.

There are not enough words in the English language to express the election of a racist and misogynist
as our President. I am going to DC for three days this week just to soak up the last juices of an eight-year presidency that saw the passage of the Affordable Care Act, among  other accomplishments.

I wish I didn't know that two million more Americans voted for Hillary than for Dump.  When I try to think about him in the Oval Office, giving the State of the Union Address, my stomach contracts. I get depressed. I get scared. And then it's back to the stomach contractions for another go-round.

Let's do what Oliver says: put your money to work donating to advocacy organizations and media outlets. You know what they are. Get to work, volunteering. Write your Congress person. March in Washington on January 21st. Stop relying on Facebook for news because too often the crap is a crackpot rumor. Don't believe anything coming down the Trumpike.


Let's work toward a comeback in 2018. Let's hope for the best. Let's be prepared for the worst as in the Supreme Court of the United States. Let's hold monthly candlelight vigils in every major and minor city across the country. Hold regular protests on the Washington mall.

I always wondered how scary dictators ended up running things in all those countries around the world.
We never thought such a thing was possible here.

Clearly, we were wrong.

A Bounty of Song in Berkshire County

On Sunday afternoon, November 20, eighteen members of the Hevreh of Southern Berkshire community gathered in Great Barrington, Massachusetts to give a fabulous choral concert. The singing group, known as Berkshira, is directed by a first-class choral director named Arlene Symons, whose lifelong work has been singing, piano playing and choral direction. One of the choral concerts she directed several years ago -- which combined youngsters with seniors -- was featured in a documentary that earned an Oscar.

So here now Arlene has turned her energy to making a grand chorus out of amateur (reading music is NOT required) singers in Berkshire County.  The name Berkshira derives from the Hebrew word "shira," which translates as singing, or song. Arlene is all about song.

In some magical fashion, Arlene takes raw talent and enthusiasm, plus wonderful old time songs, and voila! She produces the kind of concert that earns standing ovations.

Our concert on Sunday -- which was held in spite of a blow out blizzard -- attracted a huge crowd, and was so successful that we are "booked" for another concert in May! (We will remind you then.)

This post originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Two Drops of Ink, a Lovely Literary Blog

If you're in the mood for poetry and other literary writing, I kindly suggest you take a look at Two Drops of Ink, a fabulous literary blog.

I thank Linked In for bringing it to my attention.  The minute I saw its gorgeous look -- and after I saw the list of its highly successful contributors -- I knew at once that I wanted to submit my work.

Here, today, the site has published a poem of mine called "Red Bird Alert."

So on behalf of a great blog, I am calling all writers to send your work to them. The Editor-in-Chief, Scott Biddulph, responded to my poem with incredible insight. His comments couldn't have been more helpful and will be useful as I go forward.

The internet has done wonders for the writers of the world. Getting our work out there into the universe has never been easier. Come and join in the fun!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

This Holiday, Help Fight the Menace that is Donald Trump and his fellow thugs!!!

So like everyone else, I get a horrible gut wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I think about it. Donald Trump. Four years. The f----- White House.

Yesterday it happened when I turned on NPR and heard my beloved President Obama giving a news briefing. The thought of him and Michelle not being in DC anymore makes my heart ache. Part of that is because Rich and I were among the millions that thronged to the Washington Monument on January 20, 2009 to see the first black man take the oath of office.

But now what? what can we do?

So here is an idea, courtesy of my daughter, Jocelyn, and her husband, Evan.

I have decided to promote this idea as far and as wide as I can. I hope you will too!

"Hi All -- 

Back from Denver and into reality. Evan and I are thinking about what we can do to help cope with the election results and to try to protect our country and the world especially for our son. After a sad and compelling Last Week Tonight episode we feel like we have some ideas about practical things we can do. I encourage you to watch it if you're interested.

In the meantime for the next 4 years we plan to give everyone gifts of donations to major organizations that fight for our rights and protect those that need protection: planned parenthood, ACLU, the Trevor project, and others. We also plan to subscribe to high quality new outlets (new York times to start) so they can afford to do the journalism we need to know about what is going on in government.

Please consider similar donations in lieu of gifts to any of us. Hoping this small effort on our part makes some difference.

Thanks Jossy and Ev for this wonderful idea!"

Love you,

Mom xoxo

This post appeared first in the Huffington Post.

Monday, November 14, 2016

So you wanna be a writer do you?

Maybe you are a beginning writer. Or a writer with half a novel tucked in your desk drawer. Or someone who has always dreamed about writing but wasn't sure how to take the first steps.

Check out my snazzy new website to see what kind of class might suit your needs.

I can help you to improve your writing no matter how long you've been at it. As a working professional for the past four decades, I have published in virtually every category of writing:

Journal writing (including visuals)
Public relations
Book reviews (New York Times)
Newsletter writing and editing
Magazine writing
Personal (first-person) essays
Short fiction
Written scripts for public radio
University papers
Doctoral dissertations
Blogging (The Huffington Post)

I am currently teaching a writing class called Torah Matters at my temple, Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, in Great Barrington, MA. I am also leading a writing workshop for a half dozen women with developmental disabilities at a phenomenal residence, Riverbrook, in Stockbridge, MA.

In January, I will be teaching a half-day workshop at the Lenox Community Center, in Lenox, MA.

Maybe you know someone who wants to write but has been too shy to try. I hope you will share with them my new website,

I have taught thousands of students how to write, as well as dozens of adults who came to writing later in life. It's never too late to write your heart out!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

A Spanish quote offers solace...

The Spanish quote reads "Quisieron enterrarnos, pero se los olvido que somos semillas."

Translation: "They tried to bury us, but they forgot we were seeds."

Still, as my activist husband Richard Kirsch suggests, "Right now I feel like a seed buried deeply underground."

Richard was instrumental in helping to pass the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The program, which became law in 2010, now provides health insurance to approximately 20 million Americans who would otherwise not have insurance.

Trump has vowed to repeal the ACA.

I wonder how many people covered by the ACA voted for Trump. Perhaps none.

I wonder how many of those who are insured face life or death illnesses, and how they will manage to get treatment without insurance.

I wonder if I might wake up tomorrow to find out this election outcome was some kind of nightmare.

Monday, November 07, 2016

More profound poetry from ancient Persia

Every once in a while along comes a poem and it stops you in your tracks. You read it over and over again and feel the words sinking into your blood and running through your veins. You are astonished that someone has written exactly what it is you needed and wanted to hear. You wish like heck that you'd written it yourself, but most of all you're just so glad somebody else did.

In this case, the poet who wrote the poem I have in mind lived hundreds of years ago. Hafiz, who lived from 1320-1389 (about 100 years after Rumi) is a highly celebrated Persian poet. Wikipedia claims that Hafiz' work can be found "in the homes of most people in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan," and that people "learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day." Westerners learned of Hafiz' poetry largely thanks to Goethe, and later to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who translated Hafiz' work in the 19th century.

According to the book where I saw this poem (see citation below), an Indian teacher named Hazrat Inayat Khan, who is said to have brought Sufism to the West, once said of the poet "the words of Hafiz have won every heart that listens."

And so Hafiz has won my heart with a poem called:

"Now is the Time."

Now is the time to know
That all that you do is sacred.

Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God.

Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just a child's training wheels
To be laid aside
When you can finally live
With veracity
and love.

Hafiz is a divine envoy
Whom the Beloved
Has written a hold message upon.

My dear, please tell me,
Why do you still
Throw sticks at your heart
And God?

What is it in that sweet voice inside
That incites you to fear?

Now is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred.

This is the time
For you to deeply complete the impossibility

That there is anything
But Grace.

Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Is Sacred.

from The Gift, Poems by Hafiz, The Great Sufi Master, translations by Daniel Landinsky.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Advice from the 13th Century

By Rumi

“When I run after what I think I want, my days are a furnace of distress and

If I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me, and
without any pain.

From this I understand that what I want also wants me, is looking for me and
attracting me.

There is a great secret in this for anyone who can grasp it."

Rumi was a Persion poet who lived in 1207. His poetry is some of the most profound that's ever been written.