Have you seen my review of Miriam Kosman’s new book about Jewish feminism in this week’s Jewish Home L.A.?

This week’s Jewish Home L.A. contains my review of Circle, Arrow, Spiral: Exploring Gender in Judaismrecently published by Mekor Press and distributed by Menucha Publishers. 

Jewish book on feminism

Miriam Kosman’s outstanding new book about gender within Judaism

Miriam Kosman‘s new book appears at a pivotal point in Jewish history. The role of women in Judaism has dominated the headlines of Jewish media outlets in recent years. Usually, Hareidim are made out to be the bad guys: according to most writers, Hareidi men bully women, look down on us, and short change us in any way humanly possible.

For someone like me — a feminist who willingly joined the ranks of those observant Jews who lean to the right — this kind of “news” makes us want to bang our heads into the wall in frustration. Not only do we perceive the Jewish world differently, many of us chose Orthodoxy in some part because mainstream feminism had failed us. Frankly, we felt more supported and appreciated as human beings, as Jews, and as women within our new community than we did in in our former, non-Orthodox world. We feel respected by the vast majority of Hareidi men, including by our husbands, sons, and rabbis. And while we do see plenty of areas in which our community can and should improve, many of the issues targeted by reporters and crusaders hold completely different meanings for us than for secular people.

Many of the recent books about Judaism written by Modern Orthodox authors have compounded the problem. They report on our world as outsiders (sometimes trumpeting all along how because they are, loosely-speaking, “Orthodox” they therefore have an insider view), and often articulate outrage while playing fast and loose with facts. Yet, until now, few books for the English speaking world have expressed the genuine insider perspective as to why Orthodox women don’t participate in many time-bound positive commandments, are excluded from certain communal rules, and so on. 

Miriam Kosman‘s new book remedies that. Continue reading

Writing exercise for building empathy, Part 2

A month or so ago, I published a post about how writers — and everyone else — could benefit from building empathy. I’d like to share another strategy about which I’ve gotten a positive feedback about. This exercise in particular will build you as a writer, and as a person.

For this exercise you can do one of two things: Continue reading

Interview with Suri Rosen, author of Playing with Matches

Today, I have the pleasure of sharing with my readers an interview with Suri Rosen, the author of a new YA novel, Playing with Matches. (You can find my review of the highly-entertaining Playing with Matches here.)

PlayingWithMatches_hiRes (3)Suri piqued my interest in part because she has published her first book — a book with universal themes but with distinctively Orthodox characters and setting — with a mainstream, secular publisher. Most books with Orthodox themes tend to be published by Jewish publishers. I conducted this interview last week via email.

RK: This is your first novel, but as many of the reviewers have noted, you write with real skill. In particular, you handle Rain’s voice with humor and confidence.​ Have you published other genres before, taken classes, or to what else do you attribute your success?

SR: I’ve always been writing. (I cover this in detail on this website,’Dear Teen Me.’)

I read numerous books and blogs about writing and spent countless hours discussing technique with other novelists. But the most important aspect of becoming a publishable author  – to me – is getting feedback. Giving a critique also sharpens your craft but getting a critique to me is the single most important factor in developing yourself as a writer.

And it can be brutal! Continue reading

Making a plan for 5775

Since, in last week’s post, I identified five areas in which I can improve my writing career in the next year, I thought I should also consider the steps to take in order to accomplish those goals.

1) Stop wasting time.

I really do need to stay connected on social media for professional reasons: for networking, to publicize my work when it goes live, and so on. However, I don’t need to check it periodically all day long, and then stare fascinated at the screen when I should be writing.

Two steps I’m going to take: allow myself one half-hour of Twitter and FB at noon, and one half-hour after the kids go to bed. The only exception is on those days I actually expect to have a story published online and know I’ll need to publicize it.

Additionally, Continue reading

Visiting “Life in the Married Lane” today for Part 2 of the Orthodox Women Talk Roundtable

Last week, the Orthodox Women Talk Roundtable debuted at Keshet Starr’s blog, and this week Rivki Silver is hosting. On this week’s roundtable (you can find it here) we discuss preparing for and celebrating Shabbos when there are kiddos running around the home. I read lots of great insights from the bloggers included. Can’t wait to find out what the next question is! Anyone who wants to contribute a question — about life as an Orthodox woman, Jewish motherhood, or the like — can send it to Rivki through the “Contact Me” link on her blog.

As the Year Turns… Looking back at 5774

It’s a week until Rosh Hashanah, which for Jews means this is the last week of the year.

What a year.

The world has suffered through a lot this year. Looking ahead, I see so much to pray for in the coming year: peace for the world, individual nations, and in our personal lives; rescue for captives; and what in Hebrew we call “Menuchas HaNefesh,” the ability to remain tranquil even when in stormy seas. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But looking back professionally, I’m profoundly grateful for a very productive year.

Top 5 Things I’m Grateful For This Past Year As a Writer:

1) I’ve published more in the last year than in the prior 38 years of my life combined. Continue reading