Logo for "The Matzo Chronicles - Family, Food, Memory and Guilt"The Matzo Chronicles offer light-hearted reflections on family, food, memory, and guilt — in short everything Jewish. The column addresses timely topics and timeless concerns. It’s like a soul-satisfying bowl of matzo ball soup with a pinch of Nora Ephron and a sprinkling of salty Sophie Tucker!

Karen’s stories appear in J. The Jewish News of Northern California, The New York Jewish Week, The Washington Jewish Times, and The Times of Israel.

Read on for a hearty helping of The Matzo Chronicles.


  • My face has gone to the dogs
    on June 17, 2021

    When I was a child, my Uncle George would grab my cheeks so hard I thought he’d lift me off the ground. “Such a shayna punim” he’d exclaim with joy. “Yes!” my parents would reply with equal joy. At 6, I hated Uncle George and I hated my parents. Now, at 67, I hate my The post My face […]

  • Three life lessons from sheltering in place
    on May 25, 2021

    It’s been a hard year in oh so many ways. Now, thankfully, in most parts of the United States, we’re starting to emerge from the fear and isolation of sheltering in place. And as we do, I for one, am pausing to reflect on what I learned about myself during this time. One “lesson” surprised […]

  • At $3 a bagel, I might have to put myself in lox-down
    on April 20, 2021

    Here in the Bay Area, sitting out the pandemic, I’ve developed a serious addiction. It’s surprising it’s taken so long. After all, I’m a native New Yorker, the daughter of native New Yorkers, the granddaughter of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. Experts say addictions run in families. […]

  • Am I a Galatz from Galați? Part 2
    on April 6, 2021

    Three years ago in this space I asked, “Am I a Galatz from Galați?” Well, since then, I’ve been taken on an unexpected joyride of genealogical learning and been thrilled by the revelations I’ve acquired. Here’s a brief sampling: First, genealogists are delightful fanatics. Second, forget […]

  • An unexpected email brings joy. I’ve got mishpocha!
    on March 1, 2021

    It’s been a tough couple of months. Politics and pandemic have taken their toll on me. Like many people, I have lost loved ones this year. And almost a year of sheltering at home has made me feel that my once larger-than-life life has shrunk to minuscule proportions. Stuck at home, I have been […]

  • Buy yahrzeit candles in bulk? And so it goes these pandemic days
    on January 27, 2021

    Here in California, we continue living under shelter-in-place orders. It’s gone on for so long, I’m beginning to forget what not sheltering-in-place feels like! I’ve covered my “good” clothes with tissue paper, so they won’t get dusty and periodically I dust my unworn shoes, which do […]

  • East Bay artist celebrates her ‘Charmed Life’
    on December 29, 2020

    Don’t call her a survivor. She doesn’t like the term. Yet it certainly applies. Many times over. She says instead that she was “lucky.” That she’s lived “a charmed life.”  Meet 87-year-old Marika Somogyi, who lived through both the Holocaust and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Happy […]

  • I’ve made my resolutions, but will I be in the 8 percent?
    on December 28, 2020

    Jews are lucky. They get two New Year’s observances. And two chances to make New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, they also get two chances to break those resolutions. But all in all, it’s a pretty good deal, don’t you agree? Two opportunities each year to pause, reflect and embrace new […]

  • Do the right thing and ‘reply to sender’ — don’t make me beg!
    on November 30, 2020

    “Return to Sender,” a 1962 hit song for Elvis Presley, might as well be my theme song these days. Not only am I sitting around sheltering in place and waiting for that miracle Covid-19 vaccine, I’m also waiting for returns/replies to messages I sent out, some of them several weeks ago. […]

  • Our gardener has left — why is that making me cry?
    on November 5, 2020

    The gardener quit. He’s moving to Hawaii. Can’t take the wildfires and horrible Northern California air anymore. It’s not the first time he’s quit. He recently came back to work after two years away in South America. He’s a free spirit, a hippie. But this time, I think he’s gone for […]