Initially, we thought we’d abscond to Israel for my son’s bar mitzvah. We’d lug a Torah up Masada, have our son chant his prayers as the sun rose, then go jump in the Dead Sea. Simple and…straightforward, right? But as we talked things over — and priced it out — we realized it would be a shame not to celebrate this milestone with family and friends, our close-knit Brooklyn community that’s integral to Noah’s life. If we were going to keep the simcha stateside, it needed to reflect Noah as an… >> Read More
With her new novel, told in lush prose through a carousel of viewpoints, Anna Solomon proves once again to be one of the most ambitious and fearless writers today. Her new novel “Leaving Lucy…Pear” is a sweeping story of two women in Prohibition Era New England whose worlds intersect over the care and concern of an inimitable child. I spoke with the Jewish author and Kveller contributor in Brooklyn: Your first novel, “The Little Bride,” followed a 19th century Russian Jewish mail order bride shipped to the plains… >> Read More
With her startling debut collection, “The Bed Moved,” Jewish author Rebecca Schiff announces herself as one of the most refreshing and powerful new voices in literature. Hilarious, intelligent,…deeply and darkly poignant, her stories are being likened to the work of Nabokov and Lorrie Moore. And yet Schiff’s voice is a singular force onto its own. Recently, she sat down with me at a Brooklyn coffee house to discuss lox, alienation, ironic Christmas trees, and other pressing concerns of the Jewish people. We're… >> Read More
My first transgression was a cheesesteak.
I was 6 years old, maybe younger, staring down the gateway to deviance. If my dinner plate were the back page of “Highlights for Children,” I had the…answer in the bag. What was wrong with the picture? A gross violation of church and state. The flagrant commingling, no—outright canoodling—of two items that had no business being together: milk and meat. At home, we observed the laws of kashrut: two sets of silverware, two sets of dishware, sponges of different colors and pots… >> Read More
I am not a stickler for rules. On Shabbat, there are boatloads of them--39 categories of prohibited activities to be exact--plus countless rituals.
While I hardly need a nudge to stop “doing…work,” the restrictiveness of the weekly holiday seems awfully labor intensive, not to mention a slippery slope: subscribe to one rule and there’s another and so on, and before you know it you’re setting timers for reading lamps and waiting for someone else to push the elevator button for you. The whole point of Shabbat… >> Read More
It started at the Brooklyn Jewish Children's Museum. We were on the third floor, in the exhibit titled "World of Good." My daughter picked up a toy pay phone attached to the wall; above it, an…animated version of Normal Rockwell's The Gossips played whisper down the lane. The receiver blared, "Mrs. Applefield said Ron Jones' wife locked him out of the house…Can you believe it? Ron Jones and his wife might be getting a divorce." She giggled, stuck out her hip, twirled the cord around her finger. My 3-year-old began… >> Read More