My most recent book review: Calling Out to You by Tehilla Edelman

Last week, The Jewish Home L.A. published my book review of Tehilla Edelman’s new anthology about depression and anxiety disorders in the Orthodox world, Calling Out to You.

Here’s the review.

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Calling Out to You

Not only is the book an amazing resource for observant Jews with mental illness, but it’s also essential reading for their rabbis, principals, therapists, family, and friends. The format is innovative as it contains not only articles about treating depression, OCD, and the like, but also poems and narratives written by patients themselves. Highly recommended.

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I’m on a mission from G-d. (Only half joking, folks.)

Another writing gig landed at my feet, and it connects to the theme of the last article I published: female leadership in the Orthodox community. Meanwhile, half the things I’ve read in the last couple weeks seem to touch on the topic of leadership. I feel like G-d is sending me a little message: WRITE ABOUT THIS.

I wrote about feminism in the Jewish context a while back, in the form of a personal essay. I’ve wanted to write more about the particular spin I have on feminism for a while – a spin that has made me unpopular with some readers and a bit of a heroine with others. Unfortunately, Continue reading

Signs you might want to buy one of my new books

BOTH MY NEW BOOKS ARE UP AND RUNNING ON AMAZON! WAHOO!

(Do I sound excited?)

Mazal’s Luck Runs Out is for ages 8-11.

My life is being taken over by marketing (What? Did you say there’s a Jewish holiday coming? More than one? You mean I have to cook, too? ARGH!). Also, I’m working on no budget here, but at least people can actually buy both Mazal’s Luck Runs Out and Sliding Doors and other stories online now.

With no further ado… Continue reading

Orthodox Women Talk: Roundtable about media consumption

OWTHi, everyone! I know I pretty much never post twice in a day, but I’m hosting this month’s Orthodox Women Talk. Our panelists include:

  • Tali Simon
  • Melissa Amster
  • Ruchi Koval
  • Rivki Silver
  • Keshet Starr
  • Estee Lavitt
  • and yours truly.

This month’s question is this:

How much do you engage in popular music, movies and other forms of entertainment? What factors have contributed to that choice?

Wow! We’ve got a lot of variety in responses. Let’s see what our roundtable panelists have to say... Continue reading

Have you seen my review of Miriam Kosman’s new book about Jewish feminism in this week’s Jewish Home L.A.?

This week’s Jewish Home L.A. contains my review of Circle, Arrow, Spiral: Exploring Gender in Judaismrecently published by Mekor Press and distributed by Menucha Publishers. 

Jewish book on feminism

Miriam Kosman’s outstanding new book about gender within Judaism

Miriam Kosman‘s new book appears at a pivotal point in Jewish history. The role of women in Judaism has dominated the headlines of Jewish media outlets in recent years. Usually, Hareidim are made out to be the bad guys: according to most writers, Hareidi men bully women, look down on us, and short change us in any way humanly possible.

For someone like me — a feminist who willingly joined the ranks of those observant Jews who lean to the right — this kind of “news” makes us want to bang our heads into the wall in frustration. Not only do we perceive the Jewish world differently, many of us chose Orthodoxy in some part because mainstream feminism had failed us. Frankly, we felt more supported and appreciated as human beings, as Jews, and as women within our new community than we did in in our former, non-Orthodox world. We feel respected by the vast majority of Hareidi men, including by our husbands, sons, and rabbis. And while we do see plenty of areas in which our community can and should improve, many of the issues targeted by reporters and crusaders hold completely different meanings for us than for secular people.

Many of the recent books about Judaism written by Modern Orthodox authors have compounded the problem. They report on our world as outsiders (sometimes trumpeting all along how because they are, loosely-speaking, “Orthodox” they therefore have an insider view), and often articulate outrage while playing fast and loose with facts. Yet, until now, few books for the English speaking world have expressed the genuine insider perspective as to why Orthodox women don’t participate in many time-bound positive commandments, are excluded from certain communal rules, and so on. 

Miriam Kosman‘s new book remedies that. Continue reading

Megillat Esther through the eyes of a 21st century writer, or It’s okay if G-d saves the day if there’s forshadowing

This year, in preparation for Purim, I’ve been rereading the megillah at a class given by my LOR (local Orthodox rabbi). Of course, it’s not the first time I’ve read The Book of Esther, as it’s called in English. We do that every year on Purim–twice! And it’s also not the first time I’ve learned it with this particular rabbi. But it is the first time I’ve read it with commentary, guided by my rabbi, since I officially became an author (whatever that means). And boy, is there a difference.

The Big Literary No-No All Over the Megillah

book of esther theater poland

A Purim Spiel in Poland. Photo shared in the Wikipedia Commons by Henryk Kotowski.

When you’re writing fiction, there is a big no-no that you’re told never to do: rely on deus ex machina. In short: don’t get your characters out of a tight corner by dropping a deity down from the sky to perform an instantaneous rescue. The audience will roll their eyes, at best.

The term originated with actors playing deities in the theaters of Greece. But for a religious writer of a different persuasion in the 21st century, it causes problems. Continue reading