Tuesday, March 8, 2016

J Is For Jewish Stories

Jennifer reviews a Hanukkah book…

Some of the contemporary romance I write involves Jewish characters. I’ve spoken before about the need for diversity in romance (as have many others) and why I choose to sometimes write Jewish romance. There are many other authors who have echoed my thoughts and in fact, there was an interesting article in RT Magazine about this very subject. While I didn’t agree with everything the author said, I’m glad the discussion is occurring—we all benefit from discussions of diversity, whether it’s regarding religion, skin color, culture or anything else.

Sarah Wendell, known for her amazing blog, Smart BitchesTrashy Books, also wrote a Jewish romance, Lighting the Flames: A Hanukkah Story, revolving around Jewish summer camp and Hanukkah. I read it and thought I’d post about it here.


Genevieve and Jeremy have known each other since they were seven, and have been summertime best friends at Camp Meira, a Jewish overnight camp in the mountains. As campers, and then as staff, their friendship was a constant, something neither wanted to change, no matter how tempting those changes might be.

Then, last year, with little warning, Jeremy left camp early. After that summer, Gen left the country on a graduate fellowship.

Now, a little over a year since they were last at Meira, Gen and Jeremy are back together to help run a special Winter Camp during Hanukkah. Any water under the bridge is frozen this time of year, and with so much left unspoken and unexplained, this week may be their chance to rekindle their friendship, or turn it into something new.

The book was a lot of fun to read. Although I never went to a Jewish summer camp, my kids did and my husband is involved with it and I loved how the experience was portrayed. She did a great job capturing the intensity of relationships that develop at camp, as well as the “weirdness” of trying to maintain that relationship outside of camp. The characters were well developed and the story was enjoyable to read. If you’re looking for a story where the religion and culture are woven in seamlessly, this is a great place to start.

4 Hearts


  1. I love stories like yours, Jen, because I love experiencing other traditions and cultures.

  2. So, how do you do your research,Paula?There are subtle differences between people of different cultures, religions, shoot, even regions. I ask because I am sure that you do.I have read some pretty awful writers who just decide they will put in characters about whose background they really don't know.

    1. Hi Tonette, it's Jen, actually. I can't speak for anyone but myself, and I write what I know. Being Jewish, it's easy for me to incorporate that into my stories. Of course there are still differences, but I suspect it's similar to when people write about Christmas celebrations in their stories.

  3. I agree with Ana about diversity, but I wonder how much you feel you have to explain the details of Jewish festivals for the benefit of non-Jewish readers? I must admit I tend to steer away from any religious festivals in my novels, apart from about half a page about Christmas in one of my stories!

    1. I don't full out explain anything. I might have a child ask a question that I know a reader might have, or I might describe the scene in a way that makes it clear what's going on. But I don't do it much differently than you might when explaining Irish history.

  4. I too like living vicariously through stories. It lets me experience whole other 'worlds' I never would otherwise.