The camp was dark and smelled of unwashed bodies, dried blood, sand and feces*. Over us, sparsely-leaved trees hung, blotting out much of the night sky. A camp fire flickered over our little community. All around it were children, their cold AK-47s resting tightly against their sleeping bodies. Nearby, I could just barely make out […]


I can’t help but stare in wonder as I watch the army around us make camp for the night. It seemed like we’d been on the move for a week. And the entire time, a continual stream of scouts had been coming in and out of the camp, reporting what they encountered to the senior […]

The Salvation of Darkness

The darkness is near total. Only a small torch, carried by my sister Atakilla, illuminates the way. The rancid scent of the tallow that fuels her candle disturbs me. The light from the irregular flames sputter against the smooth stone walls of the passageway. I am the Queen of my people, strong and honored. I […]

The Gnome

They call me the gnome. They’ve always called me the gnome. I didn’t used to care. I didn’t care what other people thought of me. I hardly gave consideration to what I thought of myself. I just am. Others can worry about currying the favor and praise of their peers. That has never been my […]

The Institution

The weather is wonderful today. The heat of the summer has passed and the autumn air seems to caress us. I can smell the stones on the buildings that surround me. They smell old and worn and wise. I love their smell in the autumn. But what truly grabs me tonight is not the weather, […]

Two-Rivers Judaism (non-fiction)

Sukkot is the holiday where we focus not only on our relationship with Hashem, but on extending this relationship to the world. To do this, we must be able to answer a simple question: “Why do we do this?” The question applies to the laws, commandments and statutes of the Torah. And if we can’t […]

The Contraband

You can imagine a generic suburban bar, trying to be cool and grungy, right? You have the spotless floors done up in some dirty-looking pattern. You have mass-manufactured memorabilia lining the walls. Memorabilia which is identical to that on every other wall in the entire chain. You have the smell of food that isn’t really […]

The Banishment of Eve

Ruth Marquet sat in front of her bank of computer monitors, crying. On her screens, fed to her through a live satellite and drone feed, were the images of a teenaged girl. She was 16 and she was being attacked on the street by a growing mob of people. Her name was Eve and she […]

The Artist (non-fiction)

As a writer, I know that my best work isn’t the work I carefully control. Instead, my best work is done when I set up the parameters and perhaps even the overall story arc and then let the work unfold on its own. I step back and let it flow. Then, sometimes, I can produce […]

The Man in the Cab

Every year I write an Annual Yom Kippur greeting. The following is the 24th edition of this series. I looked at the man sharing the back seat of the cab with me. He was my age, and he looked almost exactly like me. The similarities were incredible; the chances seemed infinitesimal. How did I end […]