My mother’s vintage holiday baubles

December 22 | 2020

As I tell in my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, my mother’s brief career as a biology student ended when a live fish on the dissection table bolted from her grasp. Soon after, my mother qualified instead as an elementary school teacher. Occasionally in December, she brought out the tiny artificial tree once in her classroom at the Protestant School Board, festooning it with icicles, tinsel, and iridescent balls. “Hanukkah Bush” was what we called the everlasting tree. Although my mother’s gone now, I still unwrap her vintage baubles for the holiday season. The words for them are no longer important— what matters is that they remind me of her.  

Wishing everyone a safe and satisfying holiday. For those who are front-line workers, thank you for your dedication and your courage.    

My turn at “12 or 20 questions”

December 16 | 2020

I’m very grateful to book blogger Rob McLennan for inviting me to participate in “12 or 20 questions.” Rob’s questions for writers are imaginative and wide-ranging, encouraging interviewees to connect the dots not only between books, but also between books and life.  Here’s the link to my interview, along with the cover of my first book, What Species of Creatures

Please be sure to check out Rob at and on his author page on Facebook. 

Observing Chanukah with a different kind of flame—my aunt Carol in the Caribbean

December 10 | 2020

In my recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, I describe how my aunt Carol and her husband, Marvin, were honeymooning in Jamaica over Chanukah. Pictured here is the postcard of a flame tree sent by Carol to my mother, Rene, in Montreal. The year was 1960—5721—and my mother, in her kitchen at home, was preparing meat halishkes and pea hominy as prescribed by her Jewish cookbook. Carol herself was more intent on love than on latkes. “What a paradise,” she wrote of Jamaica, “And marriage is not too bad either!” 

Sixty years later, and in less buoyant times, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season, whether your festive fare is clootie dumpling, ackee and saltfish, or sweet noodle kugel.

Celebrating the virtual launch of The Smallest Objective

November 26 | 2020

Thanks to everyone who joined in the virtual launch of my memoir, The Smallest Objective, on Tuesday, November 24, at 8 p.m. Special thanks are due to New Star Books, Vancouver; Montreal-based host Jeanette Kelly; klezmer musician Socalled; Zoom administrator Melissa Swann; and publicist Janis Kirshner, who spread the word far and wide. I’m pleased to share links to two articles about the launch, one published in Toronto’s Beach Metro News and the other in Montreal’s The Suburban newspaper. By all accounts, it was a fun evening!

Miramichi Reader celebrates Jewish Book Month

November 12 | 2020

I’m delighted to announce that for Jewish Book Month, the esteemed Miramichi Reader is showcasing author Nora Gold, together with The Smallest Objective, my recent memoir. Thank you, Miramichi Reader!

“November is Jewish Book Month and we would like to highlight two prominent Jewish-Canadian authors, Nora Gold and Sharon Kirsch on the home page of TMR for the remainder of November. Dr. Nora Gold is the founder of and the author of The Dead Man (Inanna Publications). Sharon Kirsch is the author of ‘The Smallest Objective’ of which TMR reviewer Bill Arnott said: ‘In this particularly well-crafted memoir, author Sharon Kirsch shares her experience of exploration, healing and loss… the astute observation of a writer in her prime.'”

Remembering my father on Remembrance Day

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.”

My new memoir a recommended Montreal read

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.

A conversation for Jewish Book Month

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.

Dressing up, but not for Halloween—my mother’s romance with Mexico

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. 

Starting life anew after a pandemic—my aunt Carol and the Asian flu of 1957-58

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: