Why This Blog?

Sitting in my apartment in Berlin, Germany, where I now have lived for more than three years with my German husband, I have been reflecting on my life’s changes, as well as on connections they have had to my family’s past, in particular to the time when my mother had lived in Berlin. After all, my mother and her parents lived happily in Berlin in the 1920s and moved to Philadelphia (where I was born) twenty years later. I have also been thinking about my career as an educator — as a teacher I had encouraged my students to think about the past critically, as well as to ponder its connection to the present. It should not be surprising that I am also doing so as a retired teacher.

In different ways, I am planning to use this blog to suggest some connections in my life and to share various reflections about them. I am indeed excited to use it as a way to consider my family history, my coming out in my late 50s, and my life as a teacher of world history. Like most people, I have different identities. To name a few: I am a gay married man, the grandson of a resourceful and forward-thinking man who orchestrated his family’s escape from France to the United States during World War II, a retired high school teacher of world history, and a historian of modern Germany. I am also Jewish, a father of two adult children, a younger brother …

While escaping from the horrors of the war and coming out as a gay man are admittedly quite different from one another, they do have some commonalities. I gained greater clarity, self-confidence, and self-control; there is little doubt that my grandfather did as well. These chronicles seek to document key aspects from my family’s history and my personal experiences; it is interesting to ponder parallels and, of course, acknowledge essential differences. What could be more remarkable than adapting to a better physical or mental place when one is older? My grandfather was able to initiate (in his late 50s) a life affirming shift to save himself, his wife, and his daughter. I — at 58 years old –acknowledged to myself and others that I was gay.

Post #13: Coming Out, Falling in Love, and Planning to Start Over in Berlin, Summer 2017

Who would have thought that a few years after I came out, I would have relocated to Berlin and be happily remarried? After all in 2014 I was quite contentedly and enthusiastically teaching in Boston. While I was considering to retire in 2017 after I turned 61, that was still quite faraway. In hindsight a … Continue reading Post #13: Coming Out, Falling in Love, and Planning to Start Over in Berlin, Summer 2017

Post #12: My Coming Out, Travelling, and Considering to Move, 2016 – 2017

In Post #5: My Coming Out: The Wonders of New Beginnings, August 2014 – August 2016, (published on February 23rd), I concluded with the importance of going to Frogmeadow, a Men’s Bed and Breakfast, near Brattleboro, Vermont, in August 2016 for a personal ceremony, instead of a Jewish mikveh, to honor the two year of … Continue reading Post #12: My Coming Out, Travelling, and Considering to Move, 2016 – 2017

Post #11: The Benefits of Collaborative Teaching for Instructors and Students Alike: Students Have Two Instructors!

As I shared in Post #6: The Joys of Teaching History to 10th Graders in an Urban Setting (published on March 10th), my collaboration with 826 Boston was a highlight of the last four years of my teaching at the O’Bryant. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have three additional opportunities for collaboration during those … Continue reading Post #11: The Benefits of Collaborative Teaching for Instructors and Students Alike: Students Have Two Instructors!

Post #10: Historical Fiction, Questions of Sexuality, and Varian Fry

In an earlier post (Post #4: Starting Over Again and Again: Schlioma Gruenberg’s Story: Planned Escape(s) published on February 2nd), I referred to Varian Fry, the wonderfully courageous figure, who in the 1940s saved thousands of people, including my mother and grandparents. Since then, I have thinking more about how the writer Julie Orringer portrays Fry … Continue reading Post #10: Historical Fiction, Questions of Sexuality, and Varian Fry

Post #9: Another Family’s Starting Over: The Resourceful Glass Family of Paris and New York

When I was perusing a bookshelf about World War II in a bookstore a few weeks ago, I came across a fascinating book: Hadley Freeman, House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family (London: Fourth Estate, 2020). Since this family has some parallels to my own in terms of an emigration … Continue reading Post #9: Another Family’s Starting Over: The Resourceful Glass Family of Paris and New York

Post #8: My Coming Out and New Political Perspectives: Yes, the “Personal is Political”!!

Given the importance of my coming out and my subsequent acknowledgment that I was a gay man in August 2014, it should not be surprising that it also affected my political perspectives: after all I had been involved in progressive politics for much of my life. (See Post #5: My Coming Out: The Wonders of … Continue reading Post #8: My Coming Out and New Political Perspectives: Yes, the “Personal is Political”!!

Post #7: My Coming Out and My Professional Life as a High School Teacher, 2014 – 2017

Given the importance of my coming out as a gay man in August 2014, it should not be surprising that it influenced my work as a high school teacher in various ways. It was not as if I returned to school in September and announced it to my colleagues in the first faculty meeting of … Continue reading Post #7: My Coming Out and My Professional Life as a High School Teacher, 2014 – 2017

Post #6: The Joys of Teaching History to 10th Graders in an Urban Setting

During the 16 years that I taught at the O’Bryant (that is the O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, see John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science) I taught 10th graders almost every year (with the exception of the two years when I taught 7th and/or 9th graders). As an exam school (a magnet … Continue reading Post #6: The Joys of Teaching History to 10th Graders in an Urban Setting

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