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Writing in the time of Gaza

I wrote a book, a little book, what I hoped would be a fun book, what was, for me, a personal book. What audacity, what chutzpah to think that I could write something that could be of any interest to anyone. Journaling, sure. That’s between you and yourself, bore yourself to tears, have at it. But a book? Give me a break. More importantly, give potential readers a break.

Still, I pressed on. And now I look at this book, actually picked up by a publisher, and I want to crawl under a rock and hide.

You see, I wrote an “unapologetically Jewish” book. When my publisher framed it as such, just a few short months ago, I wasn’t sure what that meant. What is an apologetic Jewish book? I wrote a book that told the story I wanted to tell, the only way I knew how to tell it. Yet, after October 7th, I was tempted to call my publisher and ask her to pull back the book. It was fine. It was written. I had received my validation as a writer. Let’s not kid ourselves, how big would this book ever be, anyway. It was a little book. A fun book. A personal book.

It is a Jewish book. Like I am a Jewish person. When I expressed my concerns, people reassured me, “But it’s not coming out until May, people will forget.”

Uh, no. They never have.

I have a happy life. I had a happy childhood. I went to shul on Shabbas and played with my friends. Sure, we all carried the holocaust in our DNA, didn’t everyone? We didn’t know we were hated. That was history. Now we lived in America, and there were lots of people who looked, acted and observed differently, and so what? On the outside we’re all the same, pretty much. And on the inside, well, everybody has strange families, just roll with it.

You get along. You keep your private business to yourself. You write a book, a small, personal book, to celebrate your family. You write about Judaism, of course you do. It’s what you know. Why would you ever apologize for any of it? Does anyone apologize for having blue, green or brown eyes? For having a beating heart?

But after October 7th I reread my little book. How much is too much? How much is too little. Do I dare tell this story, who am I to tell it, and have I told it well enough? Have I misrepresented my people, have I been cavalier about my heritage, as I stand so secure in my place in the world. Or is that not security but delusion? Am I a good Jew? A good enough Jew?

 I spend all Shabbat afternoon detangling my old Chai necklace so I can start wearing it again. But will I wear it proudly, or defiantly, or will I discreetly tuck it under my shirt when I feel uncomfortable. Will I wave the Israeli flag, or will I watch the events at home, on zoom, where I am safe within my walls.

I read the paragraph I wrote so long ago:

 Ha. Her decision? She was part of a larger whole. The whole that nursed a constant state of generational neuroses and existential belligerence with its fist raised, halfway. Never again. If it’s not too much trouble. Am Yisrael chai. We should be so lucky. But that was so yesterday. Now the upgraded Israeli version: Fuck with us, we’ll fuck you back. Harder and smarter. And apologize after. With as much sincerity as yours. 


As if single simple Maxie Jacobson’s little life mattered. 


I remember when I wrote those words. They rang true at the time, they ring truer today.


My words are there, in the world, but who knows who if anyone will read them. But those are my words, my lived experience. Goodreads, netgalley, amazon, sure, everyone can weigh in, or not. It’s a little book. A personal book. A funny story.


It’s my story.


My Jewish Story. And I’m not apologizing. Why would I?  



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