4 Questions for author Tamar Ansh about her new Passover cookbook

I recently conversed via email with the enormously popular author, Tamar Ansh, about her new cookbook. Let My Children Cook! is her first cookbook for kids, and it tackles a particularly pertinent area of Kosher cuisine for this time of year: Passover.

ansh book cover

Tamar Ansh’s latest cookbook, out in time for Passover!

4 Questions:

Rebecca:

What made you want to write a cookbook for children this time? And why specifically one for Passover?

Tamar:

For this book, Let My Children Cook!, Hashem sent me the inspiration from a totally unexpected angle. Continue reading

My completely unsolicited review of “Megillas Lester”

After all my recent ranting and raving about Esther in pop culture, I watched a video this afternoon with the husband and kids that made me feel better. I’d first heard about it on Tablet, then on the OU’s website.

animated video kol rom

Megillas Lester–a hilarious film in the Purim Spiel tradition.

Kolrom media, who has produced a lot of music videos and shorts for the Orthodox audience (like the video for the song “Ana Avda” and a hilarious bit on Aish.com called “Sicko” about how NOT to do the mitzvah of visiting the sick), has just released a video about Purim that refers to all the midrashim and commentaries I talked about in my rant. And it’s funny. Although Esther doesn’t make an appearance. Even Mordechai barely shows up.

That’s because “Megillas Lester” is about a boy, Lester, who dreams he has messed up the Purim story so much that Esther doesn’t have a chance to become queen. And Mordechai doesn’t get a chance to save the king. So who will save the Jewish people from Haman’s evil plot? Continue reading

When writing shifts from a hobby to a job: my new essay in Tablet

Meow.

Meow.

Last year, I wrote on this blog that I struggled with creating the annual Purim newsletter I co-write with my husband. Well, this year, I wrote an essay about it for Tablet. You can read it here.

And if you don’t live in L.A., but do want to see this year’s edition of the newsletter (and other freebies throughout the year), you can fill out this form.  I’ll put you on the mailing list!

 

In the Courtyard of the Novelist: An interview with Ruchama King Feuerman

I’ve got a treat here today: an interview (conducted via email) with award-winning author, Ruchama King Feuerman. Her latest book, In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist, just came out in September as an ebook. Recently, she signed a contract to expand the release to paperback. I became acquainted with Ruchama through Tablet Magazine online, where both of us have published essays. She was gracious enough to send me a copy of her new book and even more gracious to answer a few questions the novel left me with.

R.K. – In your first book, Seven Blessings, the central figure is a very strong female character. In this new book, you primarily follow two male, unmarried characters. What was that like for you as a married woman?

new book from Ruchama King Feuerman

In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist, now out from NYRB LIT

R.K.F.I prefer writing from the male point of view. This way I don’t worry about slippage, about parts of  my personality leaking into my characters, it’s just cleaner — what’s me is me, and what’s them is them.  I feel much freer to invent and have fun when I write as a man.  I do tend to prefer singles maybe because they are inherently dramatic. Continue reading

What? No love triangle? How books for Jewish teens fit into current YA trends

If you ask observant Jewish teens here in the U.S. whether they overall prefer Jewish books or secular ones, most of them will tell you secular books (trust me, I write for teens, so I’ve asked). Sad, but true.

Why most Orthodox teens prefer secular books

Interestingly, some of these teens will tell you that they wish there were more Jewish books for teens that suited them. Others will tell you they don’t like either Jewish or secular novels — the former don’t engage them, and latter conflict with their religious beliefs.

Thursday, I caught an excellent article on CNN about the history of YA novels in the U.S. You can read it here. There was little that was news to me in the article, but it did make me think about something that’s troubled me for a while — namely why so many Jewish teens are enthralled by secular books that don’t necessarily reflect the values of their families.

Let’s consider why secular YA books are currently selling like hotcakes. Continue reading

How to optimize your Goodreads “To-Read” list

A few weeks back, I posted about how we select the books we want to read now, next and never.

On a related theme, I just spent an hour culling unwanted books from my Goodreads “To-Read” list. 

Because what good is a “To-Read” list if you don’t really want to read the books on it?

After my very well-intentioned husband took the aforementioned list to the library and returned with many of the books it contained, I discovered few were readable in the land of Mrs. Rebecca Klempner. Three offended my (admittedly rather sensitive) sensibilities so much that I immediately took them out to our van and left them there to be returned to the library. Ugh.

How do such books get on my “To-Read” list in the first place? Continue reading