Finding Our Stories in the Stuff We Cling To | Sojourners

Finding Our Stories in the Stuff We Cling To

When the things of the past crowd out the present, how do we let go and hold on to what matters most?
A woman with brown curly hair and a cardigan is sitting on a couch and holding her baby, who has dark hair and wears a white longsleeve footie onesie. Piles of boxes, baby supplies, and furniture surround her on all sides.
From Love & Stuff

“WHERE WILL THE Judaica go?” a friend asks Judith Helfand, in reference to the material objects of her faith. Helfand is an Ashkenazi Jewish documentarian who turns the camera on herself and her family to tell larger stories. Here, she’s telling a story of becoming a “new old mother” the year after her own mother dies. She takes a deep breath of her newborn daughter’s hair and turns to her friend, who is trying to help her store and organize the too many things in her New York apartment. “That is such a good question,” replies Helfand, who embraced motherhood by adopting at age 50. “It’s the age-old Jewish question,” she continues. “Once we left the desert we were like, s---, now we have to find places for our stuff!” She breaks into laughter, that special laugh of the sleep-deprived and overwhelmed new parent, and never answers her friend’s question directly.

Love & Stuff, a POV documentary available on PBS, based on Helfand’s shorter New York Times Op-Doc with the same name, is full of age-old questions about holding on and letting go. Love & Stuff doesn’t offer easy answers or quick fixes, instead revealing the struggles and choices we make in curating our living spaces.

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The cover for Sojourners' April 2023 issue, featuring a story about international adoption. There's a photo collage with one showing a toddler on a beach, and two photos with mothers holding babies. There's a map illustration and another of a baby bottle.
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