The story behind the book
We are coming up on my favorite time of year again—Jewish Book Month. As I wrote last year around this time, as a blogger and editor, I love seeing what's new on the Jewish bookshelf each year and wish I had time to read and write about every book that comes my way.
This year the tables have turned, and suddenly I'm the one hoping and wishing that Jewish editors and writers will choose my book from among the great pile for review—the thought makes me feel proud, humble, and frightened all at once.
My new anthology, Living Jewishly: A Snapshot of a Generation was published in August, and since then it's been a whirlwind. This is my first go around at this, and I've already learned so much. Promoting a new book is both exciting and challenging, and I've been so lucky to have so many supportive colleagues and friends.
Let me tell you a little about the book:
Living Jewishly: A Snapshot of a Generation (Academic Studies Press), is a collection of personal essays and memoirs from Jewish 20- and 30-somethings from across the country. Each contributor—there are over 40—brings a unique perspective as they tell their self-defining Jewish story. In his essay, "Shomer Negiah in the City," Matthue Roth tackles the conflicted and sometimes hypocritical nature of the modern Orthodox dating world. In "To Be a Jew in the world" Stacey Ballis makes the Passover Seder her own. "My (Jewish-Interfaith-Lesbian) wedding," by Chai Wolfman explores the challenges of same-sex and interfaith relationships today. Other essay topics include JDate, connection-or lack thereof-to Israel, issues surrounding conversion, and the seemingly impossible task of defining what it means to be a young Jew in America today.
As the editor of the anthology, I put these essays together to create a window into our Jewish lives and identities. Each essay is beautiful, unique, brutally honest, and revealing. In truth, it is my contributors who make this book-without them, the story, the picture, would not be complete.
For weeks before the book came out, I was super nervous. I'm sure you can all relate to the feeling—you work so hard to create something and then you put it out into the world, not knowing how it will be received. But so far, people seem to like it—even some pretty cool people have spoken up.
Actress and author Mayim Bialik called the book "the definitive 'Who am I? and why am I?' book for Jews of our generation." And author Elisa Albert called it an "engaging chorus of voices much greater than the sum of its parts." Pretty good, right?
This process has opened me up to a lot of new things: reaching out to new people, pitching stories to the press instead of writing them, finding myself as a speaker at events. And while this is all a bit overwhelming, it's also really exciting. For now, I think I'll just take a deep breath and enjoy the experience.
In the meantime, I have a much greater appreciation for books, publishers and authors. And this Jewish Book Month, I plan to check out a lot of new books and I hope you will too. I'd recommend checking out One More River, this year's book selected for the Spertus One Book One Community Program. Oh, and if you do check out Living Jewishly, I'd love to know what you think! Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Living Jewishly is available in paperback and hardcover on Amazon.com and from other book retailers. For more information about where to buy the book, the contributors, and how you can share your Jewish story, visit www.livingjewishlybook.com or at www.facebook.com/livingjewishlybook