The new Tablet story my editor is afraid I’m going to get hate mail for

My newest piece is up on Tablet. When I submitted the pitch several months ago to the Life and Religion editor, Wayne Hoffman, he cautioned me: do you really want to do this?

The topic of the essay is a controversial one in the Jewish community — women wearing Tefillin — and he was afraid I’d get a lot of trolls. And probably some genuine hate mail, to boot.

My original proposal was a much wider topic — the denigration of traditional feminine roles by many “feminists” in the Jewish community. I shot off the query letter in a fit of pique after yet another feminist looked down her nose at my lifestyle and basically told me I was so persecuted I didn’t know that I was persecuted.

The first draft was a mess: too big, too venting, too…too…everything.

I have to really give credit to the very special Mr. Hoffman, who asked the right questions and nudged me in the right direction until I could be proud of the resulting essay. We cut most of the first draft, and narrowed the topic considerably, then tried to focus on the positive aspects of the story.

Anyway, I hope you check the essay out and share and comment and all that.

Soul-bearing writing–writing personal essays that are a little too personal for comfort

Tablet published a new piece of mine today, about the untidy family life of a person who is an Orthodox Jew with relatives who are devout Christians. The comments are busy, and no trolls have appeared so far (meaning that anyone who disagrees with me does so with politeness and reflection).

I’ve published the piece because the problem I described in the article is a surprisingly common one  (among the “baalei teshuvos” who come to religiosity as adults) that most people ignore.

It’s sorta mortifying. This is a problem that is very private for me, and–like many who share it–it is a source of pain that I usually sweep under the rug. I’ve had to explain the absence of half of my family to many people over the years, and it’s never comfortable. Now the entire world can read about it (and share! and comment!).

In general, I don’t write about my family unless it is 100% positive. I felt that this needed to be an exception, in order to support people who share this type of situation. I intentionally omitted the name of my father’s family, and I tried to protect their identities. I wanted not to expose them, but the problem. Nonetheless, one of the commenters pointed out that I was still airing my family’s laundry in public.

I’d love it if readers weighed in here (in a comment below) or in the comments section on Tablet.

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