I reviewed a bunch of SCAWY SCAWY children’sÂ picture books in The New York Times, and shared with the world the fact that my dad was semi-apeshit.
I wrote this essayÂ for Tablet on diversity in children’s literature and where the Jews fit in (or should fit in). It is, granted, confuzzling. We should not be defining ourselves by our experiences with anti-Semitism, or by protesting that WE TOTES DO SUFFER,Â or by bringing out the big guns: HELLO THE HOLOCAUST IS OUR ULTIMATE TRUMP CARD. There are lots of ways to explore Jewish culture that we’re screwing up or missing out on, which is a reflection of where we are as slightly-confused betwixt-and-between American Jews. (I didn’t write this in the piece, but I saw a roundup of Jews on a web site about diversity, a site that had never before addressed Judaism,Â and the topic was “Tell us about the anti-Semitism you’ve experienced.” Offensive! That’s like asking a bunch of LGBT novelists only “Tell us about your experiences with bias and hate”! Also, all the writers interviewed were white women –Â Jews aren’t all white! — and not all of them even ADDRESS Jewish identity in their work! I remember a piece I wrote a million years ago for Sassy about Deaf culture, and how much I learned from that research; Deaf activists don’t define themselves by their “disability,” and see themselves as part of a group connected by language, history and tradition. If you can possibly believe it about Deaf people, why not Jews? You have to look for the writers and books that DO address Jewishness in a complex, thoughtful, clueful, creative way in their work. And a problem is that those books are hard to find. (Look at my year-end lists for Tablet on the best Jewish children’s books as a starting point in looking for them.)
Other stuff: A funny (I hope) piece about my children’s and my attempt to build a medieval paper castle — sent to me, bafflingly, for review — while wondering how we could put a positive Jewish spin on what was in general a pretty shitty time for the Jews of Western Europe. (Among our re-imaginings: Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.