The Arty Semite

Author Blog: For the Sake of Unification

By Lisa Alcalay Klug

Earlier this week, Lisa Alcalay Klug wrote about a surprising discovery in Nachlaot and about how her work is informed by her father’s experiences during the Holocaust. Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


Soon after learning my late grandmother’s family lived in Nachlaot, I accepted an invitation for Shabbat dinner from sweet friends, Mottle and Batya Wolfe. Spending Shabbat in Nachlaot definitely felt like the most fitting way to honor my newly discovered roots. When I shared how much I wanted to spend more time where my grandmother grew up, the Wolfes seemed to read my mind and invited me to their Seder. I was so touched by their invitation, but Passover was four months away. I was still touring for “Cool Jew” in what was fast becoming the Energizer Bunny of book tours. It just kept going and going… Could I really return so soon?

At my next stop, Limmud UK, the answer effortlessly appeared. Several participants suggested I present at Limmud Berlin and Limmud Amsterdam, both slated for May. I could fly early to Europe, add on a trip to Israel for Passover and return in time for both conferences. I would barely be home between now and then but I was used to that (!) and Passover in Nachlaot was clearly where I was meant to be… It just kept getting validated. Was it the luck of Cool Jew, my grandmother’s orchestrations on high or something else at work?

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Author Blog: Seeking Connection

By Lisa Alcalay Klug

Earlier, Lisa Alcalay Klug wrote about how her work is informed by her father’s experiences during the Holocaust. Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


If there is one consistent theme in the ongoing discoveries of my family history it is meaningful coincidence. Some people call this synchronicity. Our sages call it hashgacha pratit, Divine providence.

In 2009, I received an email from David Abitbol, whom I had met the year before when I presented at the Jewlicious Festival he co-founded in Los Angeles. David had made aliyah and spotted a vintage photograph of a Jerusalem couple named Alcalay displayed near his apartment in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot. He asked if they were my relatives. I didn’t know. My mother didn’t know. My grandparents were no longer living so I couldn’t ask them. Months passed and the question lingered. If I could find more details about the image, I might discover how we are related.

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Author Blog: It's Not All in a Name

By Lisa Alcalay Klug

Lisa Alcalay Klug’s most recent book, “Hot Mamalah: The Ultimate Guide for Every Woman of the Tribe,” is now available. She is also the author of “Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe,” a National Jewish Book Awards Finalist. Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


It’s clear from the names of my two pop culture humor books, “Cool Jew” and “Hot Mamalah,” that my Jewish background is a primary force in my writing. What these titles don’t reveal is how much my work is informed by my father’s experiences during the Holocaust.

They say every child of a Holocaust survivor is born with a tear in her eye. This is far from an obvious starting point for cultivating humor. But like many other creatives, my “weighty inheritance” significantly contributes to the overall tenor of my writing about contemporary Jewish life — in both revealed and unrevealed ways.

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