Books Create My First Jewish Community

Ambivalent Jew. That was me through childhood. I knew very few Jews. For the latter half of my childhood, we were among just a handful of Jews in our small Ohio town. Sunday school was a drag. It was decidedly not hip to be anything but Christian where I lived. I had no desire to switch religions, but I was very unsure about my faith and what it meant to be Jewish. I hunted for answers by burying myself in books about Jews. Through reading, I often found what I lacked – a community of Jews. Continue reading

Elena Kagan’s Fight for Bat Mitzvah Creates Guilt Trip


Elena Kagan is giving me a guilt trip, but it has nothing to do with her nomination for the US Supreme Court. At age 12, Kagan fought for the right to chant from the Torah in her Orthodox shul to celebrate her coming of age as a bat mitzvah. In 2006, at age 41, I chanted from the Torah and led a prayer service to celebrate my bat mitzvah as an adult. I am chagrined as I write this: I have never chanted from the Torah again. Kagan’s long-ago fight for … Continue reading

Welcome to the Jewish Muse Blog


Shalom. Chances are, you came to this blog because you too are trying to figure out how faith can fit into your life.

Born Jewish, I was raised in a non-religious household. My faith meant little to me until strangers threw my religion in my face when my family moved from western New York State to rural Ohio. At the time, I was 9, and was one of only three Jews in the school system; the other two were my older brothers. Peers often interrogated me when they found out I … Continue reading