Official Website of Writer and Storyteller
I was delivered into the fragrant world of spices, ghee and couscous grain under the Tunisian sun; amid the scent of citrus and fruit that wafted from the orchard nearby. My father brought home the odor of ink and paper, and the excitement of newspaper-making, while the luminous, Eastern European face of my mother filled the space above my cradle with high cheekbones and immense, smiling eyes. Sometimes there was jazz in the background, sometimes classical music and four times a day the sharp call of the muezzin- and always the touch of a fuzzy blanket.
Life is circuitous, mine is no exception. No hero’s journey, but a meandering path that took me from the French diplomatic to the IT industry. From isolated beginnings to a blissful marriage and a close-knit community. Because I am perpetually amazed and amused, I choose to write about wonder; stillness and the senses, transformation and leadership; and the power, travails and humor of ordinary people.
NEW TALES OF THE SHTETL
Watch my first video, "The Taming of the Convert", from the short story collection "New Tales of the Shtetl". In "The Taming of the Convert", Rabbi Pinsker, from the imaginary shtetl of Cholentsk, and Father Smirnou, his friend, an Orthodox Christian priest from the next town over, work together to talk a young mystic out of converting to Judaism. Their efforts don't go as planned. Cick here to watch.
Why I'm writing "New Tales of the Shtetl"
As an Ashkenazi Jew on my mother's side, I fell in the love with the shtetl, and became possessed, dybbuk-like, with characters of the Old Country. In the grand tradition of Sholom Aleychem and Isaac Bashevis Singer (whose talent towers well above mine), I decided to tell new tales of the shtetl, in my own, secular voice.
The tales take place in two locales: Minsk and the imaginary shtetl of Cholentsk, in the first few decades of the twentieth century, when great change was sweeping through the Pale of Settlement and its Jewish communities. New ideas and new science were threatening religious thought; many Jews were managing to assimilate and assume "normal" identities; and the shtetl struggled with internecine conflict as it dealt with modernity and a resurgence of antisemitism and pogroms.
This was a time of massive emigration, to the United States primarily, but also, surprisingly, to Eretz Israel, well before it became a country.
These tales feature Rabbis, Rebbetsins, cobblers, seamstresses, spinsters, vagrants and musicians and many more as they find themselves at odd with the times. I'm hoping they will resonate with young people and their parents alike: it makes sense for Jews across the world to examine their place in society, as an ugly kind of nationalism rises across the globe.
These "New Tales of the Shtetl" are meant to be read out loud, and at first, I will be sharing them with audiences in the Bay Area, at JCCs and other community centers. I'll update this page when this happens.
CHECK BACK FOR THE NEXT SCHEDULED READING!