Love the picture, right? Sooooo dated! I mean, I don't know what's more ancient--the hourglass or...the paper! :-) Wait--maybe it's...the camera? :-)
This blogpost happens to be quite huge. It's a rescucitation of sorts, a literary CPR performed on the long-dormant blog I abandoned about six years ago. The reason I let my blog--and my website--lay fallow for so long is a story unto itself. It was a spiritual decision I made in the wake of the Citifield gathering where internet was strongly discouraged by the Gedolim, the leading Torah Sages of our generation.
It is always interesting to see how constructs and idealogies and perspectives change as we come to understand them better. In a world where internet has dug in its heels and become the means to fulfilling an overwhelming plethora of needs in our lives, the internet conundrum has changed from a resounding "No" to a cautious "This is how."
When I wrote my first book, Breaking Point, nearly twenty years ago (Yeah. Old. Like the camera. I mean, I can even remember paper!), it was probably the most sublime writing experience of my life. I had just had my first baby (Um, she's nineteen-and-a-half now. Gulp!) and we were living in the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood of Jerusalem but it was nothing like the Americanyeshivishtrendyville it is today. My husband, Joel, was learning for Semicha, rabbinical ordination, which meant he was gone till late at night, and talking on the phone cost money, even sending emails cost money (Yes, VERY old.), so being budget-conscious, I did the most logical thing imaginable: I wrote a novel. Er, rather, the novel wrote itself.
It was magic. Every evening, I sat down at the computer and let my fingers fly. In the morning, I'd read over the chapter from the night before and it was almost surreal. I couldn't even remember writing that stuff! Did I mention the experience was sublime? Did I mention it hasn't happened ever again since? :-)
So here I had this amazing novel about a subject that touched me deeply: teens leaving Torah and mitzvos. Families struggling to understand each other and connect. Relationships. Parenting. Values. Yum! Naturally, I was very eager to get this wonderful story into the hands of my readers. Pretty convenient that I happened to be working for Feldheim Publishers at the time. So I sneaked my manuscript onto the desk of the Big Boss and hardly ate-slept-talked-breathed until he gave me his thumbs-up.
Yes, he liked the book. Yes, he thought it was great. But there was a problem. A BIG problem. The topic. The content. Basically every word I had written. It was way too controversial. The frum world was definitely not ready to talk about this stuff. Whew! Explosive! The proverbial carpet was not ready to be rolled up to facilitate a good sweep.
Guess how long it took for my book to see the light of day? A week? A month? A year?
In those two years, my book was reviewed and fine-tuned by several prominent rabbis until was deemed worthy of publication. But it still was not published, because there was tremendous fear of public reaction. Neither Feldheim nor Yours Truly were super interested in taking a stab at being tarred-and-feathered.
Then, a national magazine, The Jewish Observer, published a ground-breaking piece on the phenomenon of teenagers leaving their heritage . The story broke wide open. The whole thing exploded. And overnight, my manuscript went from being Untouchable to becoming Hot Stuff.
Our world is special. Our outlook is unique. We value what’s right over what’s sensational. In my work, I have come to see, over and over again, how every story has its time and place and it can't be rushed or pushed or forced any earlier or later. Kind of like this blogpost. This is its time and this is its place.
And how wonderful it is that you are here to read it!
Thanks for coming along for the ride.
About Riva Pomerantz
I'm a freelance writer, widely published in several magazines including the internationally-distributed Ami Magazine and Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly. Riva's work also appears on the award-winning website www.aish.com, amongst others. You can buy my books here.