Al Filreis

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Life partners

My mom, the indefatigable Lois Filreis, 91 y.o. & plucky as ever, made the trip on her own from Florida to spend Thanksgiving with us here in Philadelphia. Thanksgiving Day marked five years exactly since my dad, Sam Filreis, died—yes, with us all here that day in my house. Thanksgiving...

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Prewar photo of doomed Filreis family members

Members of the Filreis family (all of them doomed to die later in the ghetto or to be gassed at Treblinka) gathered in a Warsaw graveyard, near family members’ plots, during my grandfather Ben’s brief visit back to Poland (in part to persuade family members to emigrate to Brooklyn—he did...

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Room in a mind-saving farmhouse @ $32.50/month

After a just-okay first year at college—Colgate University in Hamilton NY—I felt complexly disaffected from on-campus/near-campus social and intellectual life. I found some friends who felt similarly and a group of us went to see a farmhouse seven miles off campus (near the tiny village of Lebanon). A summer-only house,...

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Leon Bass, liberator

Leon Bass. I knew Leon a little bit (he lived in the Philly area) & he once came to speak to the students in my course on the holocaust & survivor testimony. He was a liberator of Buchenwald and the experience was both traumatic and charted a course through a...

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Top 5 PoemTalk episodes

I am often asked to recommend my five favorite episodes of PoemTalk. I mean, there have been 158 of them since 2007, so naming five is a tall order. I’ve loved many of them. Found dozens of them so powerful—such a moving experience, even in the middle of my scrambling...