Less than five months to go until publication day for Faith Ed (August 18), and I figured it was time to tell you a little bit about where I got the idea for this book. Two events – one in my own childhood and one in more recent history – sent me off on this journey to look at public schools’ efforts to teach about the world’s religions.
The first event or experience, really, came from my family’s move from the Finger Lakes Region in western New York state to a small town in northwest Ohio. I was 9 years old, in fourth grade. Every week, in elementary school, women hired by a group of local churches came in to teach Christian songs and Bible stories. My parents spoke up, and I was excused from the class. (This was 1974, by the way, and it was illegal for schools to run such classes during the school day inside the school.)
My peers from fourth to sixth grade noticed that I had left and some asked me why. I told them I was a Jew, and most had no idea what that even was. Some ostracism followed. For years, the experience left a bitter taste, but it also made me wonder. What if the teachers had tried to teach us about many faiths instead of just one? Would that have made us more respectful of each other? In my upcoming book, one chapter is called The Church Lady and it describes not only what happened to me in the 1970s but what I saw when I went back to my school system in 2013.
The other motivation for my book came from hearing about Wellesley Middle School’s field trip to a mosque. Yes, controversy arose, but I was more intrigued by the course than the uproar. Sixth-graders were learning about world religions for half a year – in great depth. I wrote a piece for the Boston Globe magazine, which I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. That became the basis for another chapter and for my travels around the country to see what other schools were doing.
So an experience from 40 years ago and one from just a few years ago led to the birth of Faith Ed.
You can find a fuller description of Faith Ed here.
In other news, I’m already beginning work on a 2-minute pitch for this May’s Jewish Book Council Authors’ Network tryouts in New York City. I will join numerous other authors pitching their new books to more than a hundred Jewish organizations. Looking forward to it!
I’m still in the early stages of working on events. Please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com. My publicist for the book, Caitlin Meyer, is at Beacon Press, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for media inquiries.
Thanks, as always, for reading!
(Faith Ed is now available for pre-order anywhere books are sold.)