Writing for Children: not for those who want glory, fame, or big bucks

Last week’s Hamodia/Inyan Magazine had an article by one of my favorite columnists, Rabbi Fishel Schachter entitled “Guided by Tale Winds.” While today Rabbi Schachter is well-known in the Torah world for essays and presentations for adults about the weekly Torah portion, parenting, and other subjects, he first gained popularity¬†as a rebbi and storyteller to students in Jewish day schools.

Rabbi Schachter explains in the article that one of the adults in his audience told him many years ago that he had to choose between teaching grown-ups or kids — and he indicated that the natural choice for a man of Rabbi Schachter’s talent and intelligence was to teach adults.

Turning to his own rebbi for guidance, Rabbi Schachter asked if teaching kids was really beneath him? Were all the silly voices and so on undermining his stature?

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Even turtles have to poke their heads out sometimes

What makes Jewish literature Jewish?

In theory, I’m on vacation, make that staycation, with my kids and not posting. However, in the last week, two authors I respect both posted on a topic I’ve contemplated before: what is Jewish literature? Their ideas were both useful and inspirational. It’s worth reading the posts. You can read Libi Astaire’s post here and Erika Dreifus’s here.

On a related note, after a short hiatus, Tablet has started posting fiction again. I’m wondering if the complaints about whether their previous stories were examples of Jewish literature had an effect — both the recent pieces have been translations of Israeli authors.

A seriously creative Jewish mom!

Happy 5773, everybody!

The L.A. Jewish Journal is profiling an acquaintance of mine, Leat Silvera, this week. See the article here. As readers of my blog know, I’m very excited to see anyone use their talents to bring light into the world, and I’ve long admired Leat because, (B”H, bli ayin hara) she is one of those people! First as a teacher, then as a homeschooling advocate, she’s tapped into her out-of-the-box thinking and skills to connect to children.

In her new project, Leat’s using her talents to bring beauty into one of the chief mitzvot of the Jewish holiday season: dwelling in a booth throughout the holiday of sukkot. Check out her website at leatsilvera.com.

Do any readers out there have plans to use their talents–artistic or otherwise–to bring light into the world this year?

The secret to finding happiness: Using your talents

A few years ago, a group called Mishmeres HaShalom (now called Tiferes) sent out a DVD of Rabbi Noah Orlowek on the topic of Happiness. Happiness is a particularly apropos topic at this time of year. We’re now in Adar, and “When Adar enters, joy increases,” as the Sages said.

According to Rabbi Orlowek, people are happiest (animals, too) when they are fufilling that which they were created for. A person should 1) consider their talents and abilities, then 2) use them for the purposes of a mitzvah.
There’s a famous story (I think it appears in the the Gemara) of a gentleman who had a beautiful singing voice. When he would travel on pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year, he’d lead the prayer services. One year, he just didn’t feel like doing so. He was punished by G-d, since G-d had given him this magnificent voice for it to be used in Heavenly service.
When I heard the lecture by Rav Orlowek, I thought about my own talents. At the time, I’d sold a book (it hadn’t yet come out), but had no additional publishing success. I was frustrated about how much work I was doing–writing, researching, submitting–with little to show for it.
I decided to use my writing as a chessed. I sent goofy poetry to relatives. I prepared the newsletter for one of my son’s nursery school. I wrote an article for a local magazine about a community issue that needed attention. I began to think about my writing not just as a way to express myself or a way (I hoped) to make a little money, but as a responsibility.
Maybe we can all think about our talents and choose one thing we do well to bring assistance or joy to others.