On My Nightstand: Hiroshima

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 02 September 2015 @ 9:52 am

on my nightstand

Along with the books I read of my own choosing, I also read the required books that are assigned to Ben. I started doing this when we first noticed he was struggling with reading way back in elementary school. Some of the titles are ones I’d read long ago, but most of them are new to me. Some are titles I never got around to reading; most are either books that were published after I graduated or ones that were unfamiliar to me. While some parents might find it burdensome, Ben is lucky; I love to read. Not only do I welcome the opportunity to be exposed to a new author or new subject matter, I absolutely love the conversations that Ben and I have as a result of my teaching the book to him.

And that is how I found myself reading John Hersey‘s Hiroshima this week.


Some may recall reading this in its original form; it was printed in its entirety in the August 31, 1946 issue of The New Yorker. That unprecedented decision has never been repeated. Not long after, it was published as a book.

John Hersey was a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who began as journalist and war correspondent. He traveled to Hiroshima one year after the bombing and interviewed dozens of witnesses. Ultimately, the 31,000 words focused on six of the survivors.

It is an easy read — insofar as Hersey’s writing style is plain and straightforward. That approach garnered not a little criticism from critics. Hersey maintained, both at the time and throughout the rest of his life, that his plain style was a deliberate choice. He felt that the detachment was necessary in order to present the witness accounts to the reader in the most factual manner. He did not want emotion to somehow draw him into the story.

And yet — the graphic descriptions of the aftermath that befell the people of Hiroshima seventy years ago, and Nagasaki just a few days later, are disturbing. As they should be. The decision of unleash the unprecedented power of the atomic bomb was, as eyewitnesses have documented, a difficult and painful one for President Truman. One that haunted him all of his days. And for good reason. Of the 245,000 people in Hiroshima on the morning of August 6, 1945, 100,000 died during and immediately after the blast. Radiation impacted both the ecological balance as well as wreaked havoc on the biological systems of the survivors. Not to mention the life-altering disfigurement and injuries.

What amazed me, however, was the response of the Japanese people. They blamed not the Americans, but their own government. Whom they believed would have driven the country into annihilation rather than surrender to the Allies. It took an action of such enormous magnitude to bring about the end of the war.

It’s a short book, and a quick read. But the stories will remain with me for a long time.


Pictures in My Mind

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 31 August 2015 @ 6:55 am

I love snapping photographs of my children. I try not to go overboard. For their sake as well as for mine.

Today, we went on an adventure. Something that we don’t do very often. It’s hard to do things with Ben. It always has been. And, unfortunately, we got in the habit of taking the easier route. Which is to say — we just haven’t made a habit of doing things as a family. The other kids, therefore, are unaccustomed to doing the normal, fun things that other families do.

Warren’s cousin was here for the weekend. And we were determined to take advantage of the three-on-three defense strategy. Plus, it was his birthday so we were esepcially motivated to make it a fun weekend. So we chose —

inner tubing on the Delaware River!

We’d talked about doing it for years, but the timing just never worked for us. But this weekend was going to be different.

I’d be lying if I said that everything went smoothly. We got a much later start to the day. It took a great deal of convincing to get Ben into the car due to his anxiety. Ben likes to eat at High Noon so we needed to stop for lunch — even though we’d all recently had a late breakfast. And some other slight snafus.

But we got there.
And we had fun.

Not a single picture exists of the day in any form other than in my mind.

There was no way I was going to chance getting my phone wet. Plus, I didn’t want to chance missing a single moment of the experience. I wanted to live in the present. Without worrying about getting the perfect shot. Or any shot, for that matter.


(This looks similar to the day we had today.)

It was a picture-perfect day. Just without the pictures.
One I’ll remember for a long time.


Weekly Roundup: Planning Ahead

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I’m not exactly certain when it happened, but Lil has a new hobby. Baking. Not the Dunkin Heines kind of baking. The “from scratch” kind. Take earlier this week. Ben got his braces removed and Lilly wanted to make something that had been on the list of forbidden foods. “Caramel,” she said. Except Ben isn’t […]

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On My Nightstand: NeuroTribes

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I’ve read just about every book on autism spectrum disorders out there. When Ben was first diagnosed in 2006, I did what I always do when faced with something I don’t understand; I headed to the bookstore. Borders, z”l, was always first on my list because it was walking distance from our house. I devoured […]

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And They’re Off!

August 24, 2015

Here is the thing about Ben’s autism and anxiety: every experience, even the good ones, cause him a great deal of angst. Today was the day he was scheduled to have his braces removed. A day, I had thought, he would anticipate with great excitement. After all, he’s had them on for a couple of […]

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Weekly Roundup: ELI Talk and more

August 21, 2015

It hardly seems possible that all three of the kids are home from camp. It really does seem as though they just left. This was our first summer with all of them gone at the same time…well, for part of the same time. Ben was away about four weeks longer than the littles. Now they […]

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On My Nightstand: Girl Waits With Gun

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Back in 2002, I was yearning to get my hands dirty. In the garden, that is. It’s a feeling that, since my early twenties, rears its head every few years or so and is especially unexpected as I have a reputation of having somewhat of a black thumb. According to one of my rabbinical school […]

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On My Nightstand: The Perfect Son

August 12, 2015

Of all the novels available, I tend to steer clear of the ones where the protagonist or some other main character has one of the following issues: autism spectrum disorder Tourette’s Disorder anxiety disorder bipolar disorder In other words, pretty much any type of disorder…which ends with disorder. (Or movies. I don’t watch movies with […]

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On My Nightstand: The Art of Baking Blind

August 8, 2015

Those who know me, IRL or online, know that I am a bibliophile. I love the written word, and will voraciously consume books of nearly any genre. It seems only natural, therefore, for me to share my thoughts on my never-ending, or is it ever-growing, reading list. Which brings us to a new series — […]

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Weekly Roundup: Netflix and More

August 7, 2015

By now, the news that Netflix is rolling out a new parental leave policy has gone ’round the internet a few times. But who else would look at it through a Jewish lens? Another week without the kids here. I look at the pictures on the camp websites — when I remember — and wonder […]

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