Arts in New York City: Baruch College, Fall 2008, Professor Roslyn Bernstein
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Category — Sam Freedman

Samuel Freedman

“Human nature can be broken down into love, hate, ambition, and disappointment,” Samuel G. Freedman pointed out to a class of students that he visited at Baruch College. It can be assumed that someone with extensive experience and vast knowledge of human life and our behavior can make such an argument, and in Freedman’s case, such an assumption would be correct. He is a columnist for Saturday’s New York Times, for which he is constantly interviewing people. He is also a professor at the prestigious Columbia University. However, it is probably his latest book, Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life, that gives Freedman the most credentials as a respectable writer. [Read more →]

December 24, 2008   2 Comments

A Son’s Journey

Author of the well-respected book, Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life, Samuel Freedman discussed the process behind his research and the makings of his mother’s biography during one of my classes. Freedman was very honest when responding to questions asked of him, and was open with information concerning his personal life. As a student, I was amazed at his ability to uncover information about an obscure past. As a reader, I was amazed at his ability to articulate details that might have otherwise been overshadowed. [Read more →]

December 23, 2008   1 Comment

Samuel Freedman

How do we find the truth of the past? Visiting the class to share his experience of writing a memoir of his mother, Samuel Freedman was the author of Who She Was. What separated Freedman apart from other guests Professor Bernstein had invited before was the sharpness in his language. He could quickly convert his thoughts into proper language that I began to write down everything he mentioned because they were all clear and useful for my Who She Was project. [Read more →]

December 18, 2008   Comments Off on Samuel Freedman

Sam Freedman



At an instant, when Sam Freedman visited our classroom, one could tell he was dedicated and humble. Barely late at all, he was apologetic of running a bit behind, despite countless valid excuses. What a busy man! I believe a lot of his energy and drive contribute to his successes as a writer, teacher, and human being. When he began speaking about his novel, one could tell he was kind, despite what could be considered mean about his nature towards his mother in “Who She Was.” He spoke as an author should, with words full of color. One thing that struck me as odd was the repetition of the word obscure to describe his mother. It is such an honest word, but I would have used it to negatively describe someone whose character I find to be slightly off, yet he used the word without remorse, as if it was in full of meaning, but dead in the way I am used to. [Read more →]

December 17, 2008   Comments Off on Sam Freedman

Sam Freedman: Accomplished Writer and Loving Son

When my fellow classmates and I were first notified about the upcoming visit from Samuel G. Freedman, I was looking forward to receiving insight and inspiration for my own “Who She Was” assignment.  After reading his book, it was evident to see the love and respect he had for his mother, but hearing him talk about her was completely different.  After this class, I decided that I would write about my own father because of the love and respect I have for him, much like Freedman and his mother.  Freedman claimed that the book was used as an “act of penance” towards his mother.  He also said that he made sure everything was done correctly.  For example, clothes, language and culture of his mother’s lifetime were vital to capture the essence of his mother’s life.  This is the technique and approach I would use for my assignment.

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December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Sam Freedman: Accomplished Writer and Loving Son

Sam Freedman

Since I was ten years old I have been reading biographies of famous people. I am not usually so fond of memoirs about ordinary people. Sam Freedman wrote a memoir, Who She Was: My Search For My Mother’s Life. Even though a son wrote this book about his mother, it is not written like a standard memoir, he writes it from a distance, rather than including himself in every aspect of the book.

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December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Sam Freedman

Samuel Freedman

Samuel Freedman, waking one morning, found himself with a purpose.  He had a book to write, a story to share with the world.  He needed to know who his mother was before he had known her.  Who she was before he was.  He went at this story with vigor, researching where most children don’t think to look for their parent’s pasts and delving into his own history.  [Read more →]

December 16, 2008   Comments Off on Samuel Freedman

Who She Was: Freedman’s Atonement

           On November 25, 2008, renowned journalist and professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, Samuel G. Freedman visited our IDC class to speak about his book Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life.

           After attending his aunt’s funeral, and consequently visiting his mother’s grave the first time in thirty years after her death, Freedman realized that his mother had become a “stranger” to him; “I knew who she became, but not how she became that.” Fascinated by her life as a young Jewish woman in the Bronx, Freedman went on a quest to recover her past, and return to his mother’s “stomping ground.” [Read more →]

December 15, 2008   Comments Off on Who She Was: Freedman’s Atonement

Exploring Who She Was

      We had all read his book, Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life, and now we sat anxiously awaiting the man who dared delve into his mother’s life. Most of us are content with knowing only the information about our parents that we learned after we were born. We look at them as only “our parents” and find it hard to believe that they had a life before us, but even if we do take the time to realize this distinction, it may be that we do not really want to know what our parents were like before they had us. Just imagine your mother as an unruly teenager. However, Samuel Freedman dared to delve into this forbidden territory and the result was a success – both in the form of the popularity of the book as well as personal success. [Read more →]

December 15, 2008   Comments Off on Exploring Who She Was