Author Michelle Cameron Talks About Assimilation vs. Maintaining Jewish Tradition

Montclair, NJ – Author Michelle Cameron will talk at Bnai Keshet’s Kaplan Minyan in Montclair Saturday, April 2nd at 11 a.m. about coming to terms with the uneasy balance between maintaining Jewish tradition and assimilating into mainstream American culture. Her presentation, via Zoom (https://us06web.zoom.us/j/82338558760?pwd=UW9VaCtpaTdZSUIvQWRkUURrUy9kdz09 password: BNAIKESHET) is free and open to all.

It happens every year around Christmas time – when the pull to conform with your neighbors is at odds with the fact that you don’t string lights or put up a tree. Or maybe you do. Of course, where you draw the line is a personal, family choice. But many individuals who opted – or were forced – to assimilate means that we’ve lost complete touch with ancient peoples and especially ancient religions. But not the Jewish people, despite the disappearance of ten of the twelve tribes.

We’ve faced many epochs when we had to make the choice – do we assimilate, or do we hold fast to the customs and traditions of our forefathers?

This is a particularly acute problem for writers of Jewish and Israeli topics. The recent rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has meant many of these writers are ostracized on social media and have publishers unwilling to move forward with their work. Under this pressure, do these writers retreat into silence? Do they give up on projects that they have been working on for years?

Cameron finds this a topic of special fascination – particularly because her latest novel, Beyond the Ghetto Gates, is set during the European Enlightenment, when Jews were made citizens in France for the first time in millennia – but where conformity was an underlying expectation. When Napoleon tore down the ghetto gates during his Italian campaign and stripped the Jews of their distinctive insignia, Italian Jews faced the same dilemma that we in America face today.

How much assimilation is desirable? And how much endangers Jews’ survival as a people?

Cameron has written works of historical fiction and poetry: Beyond the Ghetto Gates (She Writes Press, 2020), The Fruit of Her Hands: The Story of Shira of Ashkenaz (Pocket, 2009), and In the Shadow of the Globe (Lit Pot Press, 2003). Beyond the Ghetto Gates is the recipient of the 2020 Silver Medal for Historical Fiction in The Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs), won First Place, Best in Category for the Chanticleer Goethe Awards and was a Finalist in the 2020 Foreword Indies. Michelle lived in Israel for fifteen years (including three weeks in a bomb shelter during the Yom Kippur War) and served as an officer in the Israeli army teaching air force cadets technical English. Michelle is a director of The Writers Circle, an NJ-based organization that offers creative writing programs to children, teens, and adults. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and has two grown sons of whom she is inordinately proud. Visit her website for more information https://michelle-cameron.com

For more information, visit www.bnaikeshet.org or call 973-746-4889

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