Reminiscence—my grandmother Malca and her fine feathers
February 15 | 2021
So pleased to share my latest small publication, a story about my …
November 11 | 2020
For my father, the D-Day landing was a defining moment—one that he remembered into his old age even as his memory began to fail. In 1942, Archie Kirsch, a young Jewish doctor from Montreal, volunteered for overseas duty with the Canadian Medical Corps. As I describe in my memoir, The Smallest Objective, my father was assigned to The Queen’s Own Rifles, Canada’s oldest infantry regiment. Soon after the D-Day landing on Juno Beach, my father was injured while administering morphine to a wounded comrade. The young medic refused to surrender his duties. The book Canadians at War tells how Captain Kirsch dragged his patient “to a more sheltered spot . . . and carried on calmly and efficiently, the model of a medical officer in action.”
November 10 | 2020
I’m delighted to share that my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, has been named by writer and CKUT radio host Robyn Fadden as one of 15 great books for getting to know the “real Montréal.”
Here’s the link to Robyn’s article, which offers a wonderful selection of titles for those of us missing Montreal during the pandemic, plus anyone who has yet to experience this city unlike any other.
November 2 | 2020
November is Jewish Book Month, a tradition that dates back to 1925 in the US and 1944 in Canada. In the spirit of this celebration of Jewish books, please enjoy the following radio interview with me and Rose Marie Whalley, host of CKUT’s Older Women Live, or OWL. Our wide-ranging discussion about my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, touches on my family’s Jewish legacy in Montreal, anti-Semitism, and my experience of Jewish refugees in my growing-up years.
October 26 | 2020
In 1970, my parents and I visited the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, once the largest metropolis in the Western Hemisphere. My mother wore a chignon in the style of Eva Peron, I sported a yellow tank top with a leather peace medallion. Long before the visit, my Jewish mother inclined to Latina fashion. Here she is in her late teens, in an apron with Mexican-inspired pompoms. As I tell in my new memoir, The Smallest Objective, my mother as a young woman adored dressing up yet proved less adept at transforming me. In Mexico City, I was refused admission to a Ray Charles concert because at 10 I didn’t meet the height requirement. Try as she might, my mother didn’t succeed in making me taller.
October 19 | 2020
When my aunt Carol graduated from McGill Physiotherapy in May 1958, the relief she felt must have been twofold: Carol had fulfilled her diploma requirements, and the 1957-58 flu pandemic had run its course. The Asian flu that killed between one and two million people worldwide would cease to be a worry as my young aunt entered her first months of practice. So too would the rumours about its origins. Some people had attributed the pandemic to nuclear tests in the Pacific, others to Communist sabotage. For Carol, the real danger lay ahead. As I relate in my new memoir, The Smallest Objective, Carol Rutenberg Silver died tragically young from internal causes she was unable to subdue.
More than fifty years later, a prize is still awarded annually in Carol’s name:
October 12 | 2020
Today being Canadian Thanksgiving—spent in relative lockdown—I’m thumbing through my mother’s hefty New York Times Cook Book from 1961. As I describe in my new memoir, The Smallest Objective, my mother hosted elaborate dinner parties as a newlywed in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Singling out the page for “Moussaka a la Grecque” is my mother’s bookmark imprinted “So Far, So Good.” Tucked into the same page, too, is a note in her handwriting: 5 hours from preparation to cool stage. Big job to slice and fry—an eggplant yields many slices. Pictured here are other Greek holiday dishes from the same recipe book, suggested for a hostess with a sense of adventure and plenty of time on her hands.
October 7 | 2020
My Russian box, like a Russian doll, is hollow. As a teenager fleeing the pogroms in Lithuania, my grandmother Malca carried this enamel box with her on the passage to North America. It belonged, my mother told me, to Malca’s own mother. As I tell in my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, Malca was my father’s mother, and she eventually acquired many beautiful objects. I’ve no doubt her mother’s box remained one of the most precious. To my discredit, I misplaced this family heirloom for more than a decade, then recovered it from a forgotten carton in my own basement. I can never regard it as an empty box. This box, for me, is brimming with stories.
October 1 | 2020
Please enjoy the following radio interview and print excerpt based on my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective. Both appear in media tailored to a female audience:
Sharon talks to Robyn Fadden, host of Montreal’s CKUT Radio 90.3 FM show In the Motherhood:
Sharon shares an excerpt from her book in the international online magazine Women Writers, Women[‘s] Books, edited by Barbara Bos:
September 29 | 2020
Pictured here are my maternal grandparents, Rose and Maurice, during their carefree period of courtship before the Great Depression. As detailed in my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, this phase of life—late adolescence to young adulthood—tends to be the one we recall most vividly in our later years. But when my grandparents revisited this photo, what did they themselves remember? The giddiness of young love, or the economic collapse that forever compromised their future? All of us are subject to memory loss, gaps, and modifications in how we recall specific events. In this way, the shortcomings in memory common to people with dementia are more familiar than we might like to acknowledge.
September 22 | 2020
I was delighted that CTV Montreal decided to interview me about my memoir, The Smallest Objective, for World Alzheimer’s Day. Thanks to news anchor Caroline Van Vlaardingen and the rest of the CTV team for helping to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s.
Here’s the link to the interview: