My rant against depictions of Queen Esther in popular art and literature.

Tablet has an article up about the popularization of Queen Esther among Christians. It gave me the willies. Not because of the article’s writer, but because of what she was describing.

While some of the pastors describing Esther’s commitment to fulfilling G-d’s will get it right, clearly, the majority of these authors and pastors have not read a single commentary on Esther. Normally, that wouldn’t bother me (because why should a Christian have to do so) but they completely and totally distort the story for their own purposes. Why would you write something without doing research? Traditional commentaries (easily obtainable in English) describe an Esther completely different than how she’s being depicted in pop culture. Continue reading

Why I think speculative fiction is just SO Jewish (& you should, too)

One of the things I most like to write (and find it hard to sell) is Jewish speculative fiction. Speculative fiction is a wide-ranging label that includes genres like fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. Basically, in speculative fiction, the author suggests a scenario that proposes the question: “What if_______?”

What if…

…you found out that you weren’t a friendless orphan but a powerful wizard with many supporters? (Harry Potter)

…you discovered the back of the wardrobe led into a magical realm where you became royalty? (Narnia)

…you discovered there was a way to communicate with aliens through your dental work? (Fat Men From Space)

…you accidentally returned to the time of the Holocaust during your Pesach Seder? (The Devil’s Arithmetic)

While Isaac Asimov, Jane Yolen, Harlan Ellison, Daniel Manus Pinkwater, and many other secular Jewish Americans (as well as the Orthodox writer, Michael Burstein and the Israeli writers Lavie Tidhar and Nir Yaniv) have written speculative fiction to great acclaim–even Jewish speculative fiction–specifically Orthodox Jewish speculative fiction is much harder to find. As I have mentioned previously on my blog (and again, and again), there has been movement into this direction. But still, I get a lot of funny looks when I tell people what I most like to write.

But I don’t get it. I think speculative fiction is just SO Jewish, and so should you. Here’s why: Continue reading