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!

 

The Role of Periodicals in Jewish Life: Rob Eshman’s “Why We Write”

I read a fascinating essay in The Jewish Journal today.

Publisher-about-to-go-on-sabbatical Rob Eshman relates a recent visit he had with young Israelis, when he had the opportunity to explain why Jewish newspapers have had such a prominent and consistent role in the life of Jewish Americans.

The major reason Eshman highlighted was the importance of communication between communities and unifying them to promote certain, common agendas. He also touched on how this role has changed, from an institution what taught Jews how to become good Americans–find jobs and acclimate to their new environment–to an institution which “teach[es]Americans to be Jews.”

Teaching Americans to be Jews

This latter element particularly struck me. As Eshman mentioned, many Jewish magazines and newspapers exist primarily on the web. In fact, that’s where they now find the majority of their readers.

Jews who live outside major Jewish communities–due to geography or due to a lack of affiliation–can now access information about their co-religionists via websites like The Jewish Journal‘s, The Forward‘s, Kveller, and so on. Need a latke recipe? Look online. Need advice about how to handle the funeral of a relative? Look online. Such sites bring community to people who previously felt excluded.

In the Orthodox world, even, you find magazines devoted to Jewish cuisine, divrei Torah (words of Torah, including all of Tanach, the Oral Law, and commentaries), inspiration, and advice from the Jewish standpoint.

What’s your favorite Jewish magazine or newspaper? Why? What role do you think periodicals have in contemporary Jewish life? Please share your comments.

Ready for me to reveal more embarrassing truths?

I’m making appearance on Tablet again this week. Not being a shirker, I’ve revealed yet another embarrassing detail of my personal life: I am a reverse snob. (This is along with watching Afterschool Specialsbeing somewhat vain, making choices I can never really take back, and believing in ghosts...I know, I’m a bit of a head case.)

At the time a friend first accused me of being a reverse snob, I had no idea that such a label existed. It turns out that not only does it exist (there are definitions for it both on Dictionary.com and in the Urban Dictionary) but I indeed was one. At first I was proud of being  a reverse snob…until I did some soul-searching.

The good news is that I’m now in recovery.

Has anyone ever accused you of something that initially you were proud of, but later reconsidered? Please share your story in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out my essay on Tablet.

10 Great 2014 Anniversaries to Write About in the Months Ahead

Following up on a suggestion (I wish I could remember who passed along this hint!), I was scoping out historically significant anniversaries occurring in 2014 as potential topics for my writing.

skyline with arch st. louis

St. Louis, Missouri – 250 years and counting!

In theory, choosing a topic that’s–well, topical–can be a marketing advantage. Unfortunately, none of the anniversaries I’ve found has inspired me so far, but I thought they would be worth sharing because maybe one of them will inspire you.  Continue reading

Personal Essays: The Importance of Being Real

While I prefer to write fiction, particularly science fiction and fantasy, I do write other genres. This includes personal essays. I took a little break from writing personal essays over the summer, mostly because writing them can be emotionally draining.

Why writing personal essays feels like a round in a boxing ring Continue reading

Personal life as a metaphor

In literature, we often use the intimate details of personal life to represent broader issues. In my latest article on Tablet, I used my experience of leaving Israel after making aliyah in childhood to connect to the annual season of mourning for the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Have you read any memoirs, essays, or even novels where the personal serves as a microcosm for the world at large? Please share in comments below.