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September 15, 2011 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-09-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

arts & entertainment

Life Lessons

Suzanne Chessler
Contributing Writer

I

t took falling in love with a man who
wasn't Jewish to start Anita Diamant
along a journey of religious introspec-
tion, activities and writing.
The man, Jim Ball, who became her
husband, shared the journey as he con-
verted to Judaism; they have a grown
daughter, Emilia.
Diamant, moving between nonfiction
and fiction projects, will address the
opening meeting of the Greater Detroit
Chapter of Hadassah Tuesday, Sept. 20, at
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield,
where there will be lunch and boutiques.
Diamant, 60, a member of Hadassah,
came to public attention through lifecycle
subjects and her first novel, The Red Tent,
a national bestseller published in 25 coun-
tries. She extends her sphere by writing
lyrics for jazz composed by a friend.
The author, currently completing her
fifth novel, set in early 20th-century
Massachusetts, will have another event in
Southfield next year. SRO Productions will
stage a comedic play, A Little Work, which
she co-wrote.
In anticipation of her Hadassah
appearance, Diamant answered questions
in a phone interview with the Detroit
Jewish News.

IN: What do you plan on covering in

your talk?
AD: It will be very personal, based on a

Author Anita Diamant will speak from personal
experience at Hadassah's opening meeting.

collection of essays I wrote. I'm going to be
talking about important moments in my
life connected to my Jewish life — getting
married, having a child and being part of
a community. Ifs serious and humorous. I
think it's substantive, and I always enjoy a
question-and-answer period.

IN: What impels you to write with

Jewish themes?
AD: After falling in love with someone
who wasn't Jewish, I realized that making
a life together would require me to learn
more about my traditions. I was raised
in a non-observant but very ethnically
identified Jewish home. My parents were
survivors. I didn't have much of a Jewish
education, but I knew that if I were going
to have a child, I would have to figure out
what to pass on.

decision making with basic information.

-

IN: How did you get started writing?

AD: I fell into it. I wanted to be a poet but
knew I couldn't make a living at that. I got a
job writing grant proposals, did some free-
lance journalism and wanted to do a book.
When I was getting married, I looked at
the books, and they didn't answer the ques-
tions that I had so I wrote The New Jewish
Wedding. Then I had a baby, and there were
no books about how to do a baby-naming
ceremony so I wrote that book. I wrote six
of them, and they somewhat followed the
trajectory of my life. I never would have
written Saying Kaddish except as a mourn-
er after my dad's death.
The Red Tent came out of a need for a
challenge, and I was very blessed with that
success. It gave me the freedom to pursue
whatever I wanted to do next.

IN: What makes you approach most fic-

tion with historical perspective?
AD: I've written four novels, and three of
them are historical. It wasn't a plan of mine,
but I came across stories that appealed to
me. I thought they deserved to be told.

IN: In writing about Jewish living, what

sources did you use?
AD: I went to the library, used the Internet
and interviewed people I thought were
thoughtful and creative in their approach
to contemporary Jewish life. I spoke with
rabbis, cantors, educators and laypeople. My
lifecycle books are intended to give liberal
Jews thoughtful choices and encourage

IN: What is an important activity for

you in the Jewish community?
AD: I've been a very active volunteer,
starting Mayyim Hayyim: Living Waters
Community Mikveh in the Greater Boston
area. When I was working on my book
about conversion, Choosing a Jewish Life,
I went to the Boston mikvah available
for the non-Orthodox. It really struck me
that the place was not as welcoming or as
beautiful as it ought to be. I started talk-
ing to people around town, and the local
clergy agreed that we might make [the tra-
ditional immersion ceremony] something
more meaningful.

Anita Diamant: "After falling in love

with someone who wasn't Jewish, I

realized that making a life together

would require me to learn more about

my traditions."

IN: What has writing brought to your

religious outlook?
AD: Getting to work on lifecycle books
was a way for me to focus and give shape
to what I know and believe. I don't write
theologically; I write about customs.

The opening meeting of the Greater
Detroit Chapter of Hadassah
is set for Tuesday, Sept. 20, at
Congregation Shaarey Zedek,
27375 Bell Road, Southfield.
Boutiques will be open 10 a.m.-3:30
p.m. Lunch is at noon; speaker is at
1 p.m. $55-$65/$36 speaker only.
(248) 683-5030.

Out & About from page 54

THE ART SCENE

Jay Strongwater

Nicknamed the "Jeweler For The Home"
and renowned for his opulent picture
frames, figurines, vases and furniture, Jay
Strongwater (ne Feinberg — he uses his

56

September 15 « 2011

mother's maiden name) creates hand-cast
molds that are hand-enameled and then
finished with hand-set Swarovski crystals
to make them sparkle and glisten in the
light. The designer makes an appearance in
the Gift Galleries Department on the third
floor at Neiman Marcus in the Somerset
Collection in Troy noon-5 p.m. Saturday,
Sept. 17. There will be a formal presentation
at 1 p.m., followed by signing of purchases.
Each $350 purchase of a Jay Strongwater
product during the event will entitle the
buyer to a complimentary mini frame val-
ued at $100. (248) 643-3300, ext. 3440.
MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary
Art Detroit) hosts two exhibitions Sept.
16 Dec. 30: barely there (part two), the
second part of a multigenerational group
exhibition exploring large concepts, per-
formance and dematerialization, with art-
ists including Luis Camnitzer and Max
Ophuls, among others; and Stephanie
Nava Considering a Plot (Dig for

Victory), which features the French artist
in her first solo U.S. show. Outgoing chief
curator Luis Croquer will give a contextual
talk and walk-thru 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.
Free. 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
(313) 832-6622; mocadetroit.org .
David Klein Gallery presents Cubism
in America, a group show featuring work
by more than two dozen artists, including
Ilya Bolotowsky, Abraham Walkowitz
and Max Weber, Sept. 17-Oct. 22. Opening
reception: 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. 163
Townsend St., Birmingham. (248) 433-
3700; dkgallery.com .

FESTIVALS

-

The 23rd annual Victorian Festival, with
period costumes, old-fashioned games,
magicians, music and storytellers, comes
to downtown Northville Friday-Sunday,
Sept. 16-18. Free. More info: northville.org .
Hundreds of artists and crafters —

along with free activities for children
and two stages featuring local and
regional musicians — will be part of the
Funky Ferndale Art Show/Street Fair,
Friday-Sunday, Sept. 16-18, in downtown
Ferndale at Nine Mile and Woodward.
diystreetfair.corn.
The inaugural Detroit Design Festival,
a crowd-sourced event developed to show-
case the talents and abilities of Detroit's
creative community, runs Sept. 21-28 with
a variety of "design happenings" — studio
tours, panels and roundtable discussions,
fashion shows and art wars, to name a few
— taking place at venues across the city
of Detroit. For a complete list of activities,
go to detroitdesignfestival.com .

Please email items you wish to submit for

Out & About to Gail Zimmerman at

gzimmerman@thejewishnews.com .

Notice is requested at least three weeks

before the scheduled event.

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