As a child, the ordinary world never made sense to me. I couldn’t trust time to keep flowing, the sun to rise, or that my mother wouldn’t vanish into thin air. Certain my friends and family would die if I wasn’t watching, I treated every parting as my last. Deep down, I knew that something was horribly wrong with me, some defect no one else had to cope with. Shuttled between my Jewish parents, from a bohemian life in Greenwich Village to a stricter world uptown, I was convinced my worries kept my family safe. My every experience was filtered through the distorting lens of an undiagnosed panic disorder. When, one morning in 1979, Etan Patz disappeared near my MacDougal Street home, I couldn’t help but believe that all my worst fears were about to come true.
The history of anxiety belongs to the Jews. We ask: Who will keep us safe? Where do we belong? Are we invisible? This book mines these Jewish themes through the eyes of our most predominant emotion.