Being a Mentor

My friend Dr. Judy Washington. Saving lives every day.

A Family Doctor's Reflection

I look back over my career and realize something very important. Every patient I cared for, every position I held and every time I had the courage to change my location provided an opportunity for my professional and personal growth. There were painful moments of uncertainty and regret but they gave me strength and determination. It was really the colleagues I worked with that in their small ways lifted me beyond those difficult moments and allowed me to develop my clinical skills.

When I started in academic Family Medicine in 1996, there were so few African-American and Latino educators in Family Medicine. Unfortunately, that is still true but for those of us who are there, we are committed to the next generation. Those pioneers that I met are still paving the way for me and others through their work.  I have been fortunate to have those mentors call upon me…

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Object Lesson: Plagiarism is WRONG


You’d have to be mole not have heard or read about how Melania Trump plagiarized from Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Melania’s quickly become the butt of many jokes, including, “I want to thank my speech writers, Cut & Paste.”

As a teacher and journalist, I take the issue of plagiarism very seriously. I taught my students how to write in their own words and follow the practice meticulously as a writer. College students must sign ethic statements vowing academic integrity and must use on-line programs to verify that their work is their own. Plagiarism or cheating, can result in expulsion from school.

Academics, including some prominent historians have been accused of plagiarism and have had to apologize, diminishing their  credibility.

Yet, here’s the wife of the presumed Republican nominee, engaging in outright plagiarism in a national forum. She and her writers  should be ashamed.

Let’s take this as another example of how careless and dangerous this potential leader could be. Here’s one of my favorite reminders:

Let’s not be complacent. Get out the Vote.



Posted in commentary, Education, women | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Elie Wiesel: Never Forget, Fight Indifference

RIP, Elie Wiesel. Your words resonate now more than ever.


Like most children, Elie Wiesel grew up loving stories, especially horror stories that he found funny. He never imagined his writing wouldn’t include those kinds of tales, that instead, his writing would portray real horror.

Expressing his gratitude for receiving the 2012 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, Wiesel, 84, described how he still feels “thirsty” for words to relay the horrors of the Holocaust.  Despite the countless volumes of literature, despite the six million copy -worldwide distribution of his autobiographical first book, Night, which recounts his experience as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, Wiesel worries that “what needs to be said can’t be written,” rendering the enemy victorious.

The Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize winner, prolific author, political activist and college professor wonders if he succeeded. “The truth is I am not sure I can consider myself a true witness. I don’t have the words for my testimony,”…

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Amanda at Bat: Some Readers Respond

My sister Madeline, an ESOL teacher in Silver Spring, Maryland shared my book Amanda at Bat with her school, reading it to several classes of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. They wrote me letters about the book. Some shared how they connected with Amanda through similar experiences and several gave me writing advice for future projects. I love their honesty and realism.

Here are some excerpts:

“I had a connection with Amanda’s brothers because I’m on a soccer team when we lose my sister and my cousin say that I need to try harder and run faster and all that stuff but I just ignore them.” … Keiry

“…it (Amanda at Bat) really reflects that life is unfair and there are many ups and downs. .. Amanda’s parents remind me of my mom, because they are telling her that some things are out of her control, which my mom tells me.”… Grace

“I really like the part where Amanda stood up for herself.” …Abel

“I liked the way you made and plotted the story. It was funny and made me laugh. My suggestion is that it would be so much better if the main character was a boy instead of a girl because it would be more interesting.”… Jeremiah

“I felt the same way like her when my brothers would always get a turn on something and I would never have time to have my turn on the thing.” …Biruk

“This book reminds me when I did not have any friends and everyone else did.”.. Coleman

“This reminds me of the time when I didn’t get to play soccer because I was too short.” Ian

“I wanted to say how I have brothers, and when her brothers were being rude, that’s just how brothers are.”… Cameran

“This reminds me when I was playing soccer they forgot about me and I felt lonely until I got to go.” Jasmine

“I think the next book you should write should involve pandas.”… Rhun

There’s nothing like sharing a good story with young people. If you read Amanda at Bat to children, please let me know what they (and you!) think!

Cover lo res

Posted in Books, Education, Reading, teaching, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

MarshaJustWrites: Blog Interview

My interview on MarshaJustWrites blog:

Cyclying Grandma Shares Reasons for Self-Publishing

Posted in Blogging, Books, Family, interviews, parenting, Recipes, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Revisiting Fiddler on the Roof

What’s not to like about Fiddler? 7511522838649159578

Foot tapping, hum–along, memorable music and lyrics, stunning choreography, and a story that resonates, 52 years after the show first appeared on Broadway.

Based on Ukraine writer Sholem Aleichem’s (1859- 1916) short stories, “Tevye the Dairyman,Fiddler on the Roof is set in the Pale of Settlement, Tsarist Russia, in 1905. Tevye, a poor milkman, and his wife Golde, have five daughters and live in the village of Anatevka.

Anatevka, Anatevka.
Underfed overworked Anatevka.
Where else could Sabbath be so sweet?
Anatevka, Anatevka.
Intimate, obstinate Anatevka,
Where I know everyone I meet.

It’s a story of traditions, particularly those maintained by Jews, and challenges to those traditions amid political turbulence and discrimination, resulting in the eviction of the Jews.

It’s my grandfather Abraham’s story. At age 16, he left his family to journey to the United States, speaking no English. He was alone, without a job or family, and joined the Diaspora of Jewish immigrants fleeing Tsarist Russia. Processed through Ellis Island, NY, his last name was changed—perhaps because of pronunciation, to Klein.

Soon I’ll be a stranger in a strange new place,
Searching for an old familiar face
From Anatevka.

At this week’s matinee of Fiddler, I shared this story with my nieces, Sonia and Dasha, the only descendants of my paternal grandfather and grandmother who have the Klein last name. I’d met them, my mother and brother for the outing. Dasha’s school musical next year is Fiddler on the Roof and she hopes to audition for a part. Neither girl knew the story or music and loved it.  IMG_1390

I first saw the 1964 Broadway musical in New Haven, CT, as soon as it went on tour from New York City. My parents had seen it on Broadway and loved it. My father would prance around the kitchen, imitating Zero Mostel’s Tevye interpretion, singing “If I Were a Rich Man,” or taunting my mother with his rendition of “Do You Love Me.” I loved the 1971 film version, mostly because people said I resembled one of the daughters.

Since then, I know I’ve seen it a few more times at various professional and community theaters. I know the songs by heart.  This time, I found myself comparing life then and now.

Politically, there are refugees worldwide escaping violence and discrimination, resulting in floods of immigrants to strange new lands, many not so willing to take them in. Their exodus is brought to us minute by minute via social media. We witness drownings on our phones and then move on to browse for bathing suits.

Technology too has changed the personal aspect. Children going off to distant lands can stay in touch via phone, text, Skype, email and so on. The world is smaller than it was in the early 1900’s. Airplanes make visiting possible. During intermission, I mentioned to my brother how he must be used to saying goodbye to Sonia, who attends college in Scotland and is about to leave for a year in Australia.

How can I hope to make you understand
Why I do, what I do,
Why I must travel to a distant land

 Yet at its core, Fiddler is a story about parenting. Accepting the choices your adult children make, no matter how difficult, is probably the most challenging part of being a parent. It’s about trusting that you did everything you could to prepare them for the world, and hoping they retain the values you tried to impart.

As in “Sunrise, Sunset”:

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?

 The original Broadway production of Fiddler held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years and remains Broadway’s 16th longest-running show  in history and has been performed in translation around the world, proving that Tevye’s story is universal.













Posted in aging, Books, commentary, Family, Judaism, Music, New York City, parenting, Technology, Theater, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Cycling Tuscany

We celebrated our 34th anniversary cycling in Tuscany. The trip was organized by LifeCycle Adventures, the company we’d used in California. They give us the routes and carry our bags from inn to inn.

It’s a hilly place, dotted with little villages, medieval buildings, olive tree groves and vineyards. We ate pasta with abandon (and gelato too), knowing we’d be working it off the next day.

Flowers everywhere

Flowers everywhere

 Giovanni da Verrazzano was born around 1485 near Val di Greve, 30 miles south of Florence, Italy. Namesake of the bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn, NY.

Giovanni da Verrazzano was born around 1485 near Val di Greve, 30 miles south of Florence, Italy. Namesake of the bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn, NY.

Water Fountains

Water Fountains

A 14th century fortress

A 14th century fortress

A little rain didn't stop us

A little rain didn’t stop us


Posted in bike riding, exercise, travel, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments