Sisterhood Blog

What Does It Really Mean To Be A 'Jewish Writer'?

By Sarah Seltzer

Getty Images
Author Philip Roth

I loved Lenore Skenazy’s recent essay about how immersion among gentiles can make even the most secular Jew feel suddenly Jewish — and conversely, how being in a very Jewish environment can make us feel, well, not Jewish.

Then this week Phillip Roth insisted that he doesn’t “write Jewish”; rather, he writes American and regional.

The ongoing discussion about self-identification echoes deeply for me. Two years ago, I wrote for the Sisterhood about arriving at my MFA grad program in Vermont and discovering myself to be one of only a handful of Jewish students, none of whom were my age. This meant no bar-mitzvah jokes, no oy gevalts, no one asking me what I wanted for Hanukkah — but lots of kindred spirits despite the cultural divide.

As I expected I might, I taught my new friends how to spin dreidels and how to say “baruch hashem!” and I learned about their family traditions and holidays, too. I wore my first Christmas sweater, even.

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Media Roundup: 'Bad' Jewish Moms Get the Last Laugh

By Gabrielle Birkner

• With the release of Ayelet Waldman’s “Bad Mother” and Lenore Skenazy’s “Free Range Kids,” self-proclaimed “bad” Jewish mothers are having their moment.

• A breast cancer diagnosis brought Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz closer to her Jewish heritage, according to a Moment magazine profile of the Florida Democrat.

• Jewess has a Q&A with Tamar Snyder, the founder of Pazit.org, an organization that encourages Jewish women to become more fiscally responsible through “value-based money management.”

• Meet the Jewish matriarchs of the “green revolution.” This impressive cadre of activists are touting the likes of LEED-certified shuls, and Earth-friendly weddings and bar mitzvahs.

• Expenses related to childcare — including private nannies, daycare and preschool — are indeed tax deductible, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled.

• The fervently Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood Mea She’arim is ground zero for demonstrations for and against gender segregation on Egged bus lines that cater to the Haredi community.

• Israeli expat and Esquire-magazine darling Shirly Brener, who will appear in 10 feature films in the next year, discusses what it takes for an Israeli actress to make it in the thirty-mile zone. You can also check the Forward’s recent article on Hollywood’s love affair with Israeli talent.

• Everything you need to plan a Jewish wedding — band, dress, chuppah, ketubah — plus plenty of amusing commentary, is here.

• Achinoam Nini, a Jewish Israeli, and Mira Awad, an Arab Israeli hope to charm Eurovision Song Contest judges with their Hebrew-Arabic-English musical duet for peace, “There Must be Another Way.”

• Formula One’s eccentric chief executive says the venerable auto race is in search of “a black, Jewish woman who, if possible, wins some races too.”

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