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.

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How you should read a personal essay

The subtitle to this essay should read: the post in which I vent about people being mean to writers other than myself

I don’t just frequent Tablet as a writer, I frequent it as a reader. So, when an article went up today by someone I’d heard about earlier this week (thank you Pop Chassid for your link to Altar online), I decided to read it.

It was an essay by Tova Ross about why and how she stopped covering her hair. Now, anyone who has bothered to look at my photo to the right of this post will have noticed something: my hair is covered. I have covered my hair ever since my marriage and do so joyfully.

Reading a personal essay isn’t about judging, it’s about considering a different viewpoint

For Tova Ross, this mitzvah was not so joyful. If you want more details, go read her essay.

The story almost immediately went viral, but not for good reasons. Continue reading

The 3 Comments I Hate to Find on my Articles

Last week, a personal essay of mine appeared on Tablet Magazine online. As it hit the front page, I braced myself. A couple of my previous contributions to Tablet received a lot of comments…including a bunch of nasty ones. I figured this latest essay–about being Jewish during the holiday season–might ruffle the feathers of readers.

A couple days after the story was published, much to my surprise Continue reading

When the trolls try to drag those you love under the bridge.

knight fights troll

“Take that, you nasty troll! Maybe you’ll think twice before saying mean things about my sister again!”

I hate trolls.

Not the fictional kind. The internet kind. I’ve blogged about it before.

But now, my sister has published her first piece on Tablet. And the very first comment she got was from a troll. A mean, nasty one who called her names.

If getting mean-spirited comments from random strangers is bad, having your sister get them is worse. I’m irate! I’m disgusted.

I have commented.

Fair readers: go read my sister’s essay — and say something nice in the comments. (Even if it means you have to learn how to use Discus.)

K?

Fans, friends, and trolls–publishing my first piece on Tablet

So, Tablet published a piece of mine this week. It’s been a crazy experience.

In the first place, writing the piece was a bit out of my comfort zone. While I usually write fiction, this is a personal essay. In brief, the story is about confronting my inner teenager as I’m approaching 40 and relates an episode where I thought a younger man was checking me out in a cafe.

Troll

Trolls don’t only live under bridges.

The subject matter was outside the editorial policies of the chareidi magazines that comprise my usual stomping grounds, so I had to find an alternative publisher. Afraid I might embarrass my husband, I almost decided not to publish it at all, but he assured me that he didn’t mind. And when I shared an early draft with writing friends, the strongly positive reaction encouraged me further.

Tablet accepted my query, then the completed essay. They had it up in a matter of days. Whoa. It didn’t leave me much time to prepare myself. And, boy, did I have to prepare myself.

You see, there’s a lot of differences between a Jewish, but broad-spectrum, online magazine like Tablet and print magazines in the chareidi world. The biggest difference is the comments section.

In a print magazine, there is no comments section. Continue reading