Sisterhood Blog

Q&A: Dvora Meyers, Unorthodox Gymnast

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share
courtesy of dvora meyers
Dvora Meyers

Journalist, blogger (and Sisterhood contributor) Dvora Meyers is out with her first book, a self-published collection of six essays titled, “Heresy on the High Beam: Confessions of an Unbalanced Jewess.” In the essays, Meyers, who was brought up Orthodox, examines her childhood and young adult years through the lens of her obsession with gymnastics — both as an athlete and a spectator.

Meyers shares with her readers her triumphs and hardships at the gym and at home in Brooklyn, where she was raised by her mother following her parents’ divorce. After undergoing back surgery for severe scoliosis, Meyers returned to gymnastics for a time. Eventually, however, as Meyers began to shed her religiously observant lifestyle, she also found a different physically demanding activity to love: break-dancing.

Meyers spoke with The Sisterhood about writing “Heresy on the High Beam,” what she learned from the process, and the role gymnastics still plays in her life.

Renee Ghert-Zand: At what point did you decide to write a memoir, using gymnastics as a lens to examine your life?

Dvora Meyers: It started off very innocently. I was starting grad school and I was trying to figure out what to write for my first workshop. It just struck me that at 23, I was as obsessed with gymnastics as I’d ever been. I didn’t do the sport anymore, and I wasn’t that good. But I started to have this sense that the strength and ferocity of this obsession could imply something deeper. My professor said to me, “You’ve got this whole Potok thing, but about gymnastics.”

I decided more recently that at some point I was going to have to look them over, finish them, fix it, put it out there in some form. A month or so before I turned 29, I decided I didn’t want to go into my 30s with this project anymore. I just wanted it out there and I could move on.

To what extent was writing “Heresy on the High Beam” a journey of self-discovery?

The process has been going on for years. It’s been a start-and-stop process. The final process didn’t yield anything in terms of self-discovery, because I had sat with these ideas for such a long time and I had largely figured them out.

I think a more recent discovery was the physical basis of my feminism. It’s not just a purely intellectual, “I’m as smart as anyone else.” There’s a real body component, which is an interesting thing to hit upon.

Did writing a memoir about your obsession with gymnastics give you a clearer perspective on yourself as a child?

I don’t like to pathologize, like to say the only reason I did gymnastics was because my parents were getting divorced. I had a lot of fun there, too. It wasn’t just strictly an escape coping mechanism. But it definitely made me realize that in many ways that my childhood self was probably a lot smarter than I gave her credit for.

I was so obsessed with gymnastics after I found out I was having surgery that it was like a whole other level. In many ways, I didn’t process the risks of the surgery, which was probably a good thing. So the whole time, all I was thinking over and over was that I can’t do a handspring anymore, which was this horrifying thought— which saved me from having even more horrifying thoughts like I may not walk again after this. So in many ways, I look back and see I was crazy, but also sort of smart and protecting myself pretty well.

Was it difficult to write about your parents, given your father’s stroke, their divorce, and your father’s subsequent abandonment of the family?

Writing the essays helped me figure out how I related to my parents, especially my mom, because that is the more enduring parental relationship that I have. I write about her a lot because in many ways it’s easy. She’s a three-dimensional character to me because she’s been around my entire life. What I feel about her and know about her will carry through, and she’ll come through — despite the flaws — as someone who loves me, took care of me and really did her best for me.

With my dad, I don’t have that. He’s not a fully fleshed out character in my life, so it is hard to write him that way. I didn’t want it to come off being unfair to him, so that was very difficult.

Has your newfound interest in break-dancing replaced your obsession with gymnastics?

Breaking gave me something that I could do…I’m still limited, there are still things I can’t do because of my back. It gave me enough that I could do, and I didn’t have a past set of experiences that I could compare it to, so there was no self-loathing involved. It was also around a time when I was religiously transitioning. [I]t helped with the transition, and it gave me a community of people so if I was leaving the Orthodox community in some form, at least I wasn’t going out there and going it alone. I had another small community based around a subculture, again.

As a fan of gymnastics, that has not abated. I cover events and I’ve had a gymnastics blog, Unorthodox Gymnastics for five years.

Is “Heresy on the High Beam” just the first in a line of memoirs that we can expect from you?

I think I’ve scratched whatever itch I need to scratch in terms of writing about myself. I’d like to do more long-form writing, more reporting, more about other people.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Heresy on the High Beam, Orthodoxy, Dvora Meyers, Gymnastics

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.