Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism

Moments from Writing Class

I’m part of a frum (pious) writers group. This works out great since the women in the group are a good range of the women who might eventually pick up my book (if I ever finish it). At our last meeting, two of the women said they were amazed that I took classes in non-frum environments. They said they’d be too afraid to see what their classmates would write about. I laughed it off until recently.

Though one of my Creative Nonfiction classes meets at a Jewish community center less than half of the students are Jewish. I’m pretty sure I’m the only Orthodox Jew in the group. The week I submitted a chapter from my book, “Goody Two-Shoes” about my overwhelming eight-year-old desire to be good, two other classmates submitted pieces about an affair with a married man and a piece about hooking up with middle-aged women.

The piece about hooking up with middle-aged women was actually really well-written. It was really a piece about the depths of loneliness. But parts of it reminded me that as a kid, I used to cover my eyes during the sexy scenes in movies. It’s kind of hard to do that while you’re reading but I tried for some equivalent while reading through the parts about sex and prostitutes. Somehow, I survived though probably not totally unscathed.

But I barely made it through the piece about having an affair with a married man. I couldn’t tell if it was well-written. I was too disgusted, too pissed off. I remembered that my friend, a pastor’s wife, had once told me that she refused to watch any film or TV show where people were having affairs. I finally understood her. Seeing that kind of stuff when you are single is nothing like seeing that stuff when you are married. It’s too much. I did manage to finish the piece but the entire time, my skin was creepy crawly.

So imagine my surprise when the writer of the affair piece attacked the writer of the hooking up piece. She said the hooking up piece had a sexual violence to it and she seemed to be insinuating that the narrator, the writer himself maybe, was a misogynist. This happened after I had sat quietly through all the ever praising feedback on her piece about having an affair with a married man! I finally piped in and told her I had trouble reading her piece but even so, the whole time I was afraid of offending HER sensibilities! Perhaps, mine were already too far gone to worry about?

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