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Week 6/21/21

PUBLISHED: June 26, 2021

In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do. 


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New York

November 10, 1958

Dear Thom:

We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.


If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.



Editorial Intern Webster Austin
“John Steinbeck on Falling in Love: A 1958 Letter,” in the Atlantic



Years ago, Alexandra Friedman saw a T-shirt bearing a message she never forgot: “Become the doctor your mother always wanted you to marry.”

It seemed like an impossible goal for a Hasidic woman in Monsey, N.Y., a predominantly Orthodox Jewish enclave some 30 minutes north of the city that is home to some of the strictest Orthodox communities.

Many women marry young, and their lives revolve around caring for children, speaking Yiddish and abiding by inflexible lifestyle and dress guidelines to adhere to Hasidic traditions.

She and her husband, Yosef, have 10 children, ranging in age from an 8-month-old son to a 21-year-old daughter.

But last month, she became an anomaly in Monsey by graduating from medical school and obtaining a residency in pediatrics. Dr. Friedman’s graduation makes her one of the few female Hasidic doctors in the country, said Dr. Miriam A. Knoll, president of the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association.

“It’s unusual for medical students to have any children, let alone 10 children,” Dr. Knoll said. “So to come from a conservative background and have that many children, you’re fighting an uphill battle, one that just takes extraordinary drive and commitment.”

Business Manager Diane John
“’The Rabbi Said It Was OK’: Hasidic Mother of 10 Becomes Doctor,” by Corey Kilgannon, in the New York Times


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