S.L. (Sandi) Wisenberg (BSJ79)
Even as a fourth-generation Jewish Texan, S.L. Wisenberg has always felt the ghost of Europe dogging her steps, making her feel uneasy in her body and the world. As a child she imagines Nazis taking her family away, fearing that her asthma would make her unlikely to survive. In her late twenties, she infiltrates sorority rush at her alma mater, curious about whether she’ll get a bid now. Later in life, she makes her first and only trip to the mikvah after a breast biopsy (benign, this time), prompting an exploration of misogyny, shame, and woman-fear in rabbinical tradition.
With wit, verve, blood, scars, and a solid dose of self-deprecation, Wisenberg wanders across the expanse of continents and combs through history books and family records in her search for home and meaning. Her travels take her from Selma, Alabama, where her East European Jewish ancestors once settled; to Vienna, where she tours Freud’s home and figures out what women really want; and she visits Auschwitz, which disappointingly leaves no emotional mark. Finally, after reflecting on hospitality and the mutually assured destruction pact of Airbnb, she settles on a tentative definition of home.
“A sharp, deeply questioning mind and a wayward heart inform these delicious essays. They are wry, humorous, melancholy, and universally relatable, filled with the shock of recognition.” –Phillip Lopate