Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Out of the Ashes

Shoshana Schwartz

Daggers of fire tore through the house. And her worst fear surrounded her, suffocated her, held her in its burning grip.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The nightmares went on for weeks. Flames consuming my house. Smoke filling my bedroom. Walls of fire engulfing my world.

The spark that kindled this inferno? A series of safety films shown to us second-graders. Adorable little cartoon characters trapped inside a burning building, running around in circles and flapping their arms helplessly, until an adult arrived to rescue them from unspeakable pain and eventual death. Sure, once they had been rescued, the characters learned all about fire safety, as did we, the audience. But the imprint that remained was deep: I developed a serious fear of fire.

When I was nine years old, we moved into a house that had been rebuilt after a serious kitchen fire. When I heard that bit of history, I was flooded with relief; lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice. This house had already had its fire, and I was safe. But some local kids decided to give us a warm welcome to our new home. On moving day, they lit a fire on our front steps, rang the bell, and ran away. My nightmares returned.

Everyone is scared of something, but they live with it. I pushed my fears to the back of my mind, hoping, praying that I would never hear the crackling of the flames. I made myself believe it.

I was wrong.


To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Evolution vs. Revolution
Shoshana Friedman I call it the “what happened to my magazine?” response
Up, Up, and Away
Rabbi Moshe Grylak What a fraught subject Eretz Yisrael is, to this day
Where Do You Come From?
Yonoson Rosenblum Could they be IDF officers with no Jewish knowledge?
Heaven Help Us
Eytan Kobre Writing about anti-Semitism should rouse, not soothe
Work/Life Solutions with Chedva Kleinhandler
Moe Mernick “Failures are our compass to success”
An Un-Scientific Survey
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Are Jerusalemites unfriendly? Not necessarily
Out of Anger
Jacob L. Freedman How Angry Lawyer was finally able to calm down
5 Things You Didn’t Know about…Yitzy Bald
Riki Goldstein He composed his first melody at eight years old
When the Floodgates of Song Open, You’re Never Too Old
Riki Goldstein Chazzan Pinchas Wolf was unknown until three years ago
Who Helped Advance These Popular Entertainers?
Riki Goldstein Unsung deeds that boosted performers into the limelight
Your Task? Ask
Faigy Peritzman A tangible legacy I want to pass on to my children
Are You There?
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Emotional withdrawal makes others feel lonely, abandoned
A Peace of a Whole
Rebbetzin Debbie Greenblatt Love shalom more than you love being right
Seminary Applications
Rabbi Zecharya Greenwald, as told to Ariella Schiller It’s just as hard for seminaries to reject you