Plane Crashes

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January 22 Marks 61st Anniversary of New Jersey Plane Crash

This coming week, on January 22, marks the 61st anniversary of the plane crash in Elizabeth, New Jersey that killed my sister Donna and gravely injured my other sister, Linda. It is also the central incident of my memoir, Replacement Child, coming out in March from Seal Press.

As you might suspect, it’s a day that weighs heavily on me each year as I think about how the accident changed the lives of my family, and even led to my very existence. But, this year, I’ve been drawn to focus on the many other lives that were changed by this accident.… Read more

“Flight” Put Me in the Cockpit of 6780

My parents' home just after the plane crashI had a visceral reaction to the beginning of the superb film, Flight, while the pilot (Denzel Washington), struggled to keep his plane in the air after a mechanical failure. I’m sure many moviegoers felt the tension and related to the panic of the passengers, but I believe something else was also at work here for me personally.

Spoiler alert for the rest of this post, in case you haven’t yet seen this terrific movie.

I thought immediately of all the people who would be devastated by the crash, by the deaths of however many people might die in the plane or on the ground.… Read more

New Radio Interview for Replacement Child

New #radio interview for Replacement Child. Listen to Meet the Author interview of Judy Mandel.

"Replacement Child" for a Physically or Mentally #Challenged Sibling?

Another interesting facet of the ‘replacement child’ discussion is the idea of expanding the term to include the child who is born after a mentally or physically challenged child. In some families, the subsequent child may be looked upon to live out the hopes and dreams that parents had for the first child–that were thwarted when they discovered the child’s disability.  I hadn’t specifically thought about this until a friend, psychotherapist Elayne Savage, PhD, brought up the topic when we spoke today. She has had a good deal of experience treating adults who identify with being a replacement child, and says that replacing a living sibling in this way can have similar impact with regard to identity and rejection issues.… Read more

New Video Interview – Judy Mandel

Watch it at

Crash Anniversary January 22 – And a Trip to Remember

I scheduled a flight this year on the 58th anniversary of the plane crash that took my sister’s life, changed the lives of everyone in my family, and was the very reason I was born. Usually, my sister Linda would have sent me a warning email or called me to tell me not to plan a flight on this day. But, she’s gone now, so no warnings came when I planned this trip to LA for a book signing.

It was the last actual booksigning scheduled for the launch of Replacement Child, and I made it into a mini vacation for me and my husband to explore California together a bit. … Read more