Being Both: Notes from an Interfaith Book Tour
I am being both these days: both encouraged and challenged by readers and audiences since the launch of Being Both last fall. Here are some brief highlights:
In October, a packed house celebrated the book launch at the magical Washington DC bookstore, Politics & Prose. I was touched that David Cohen, husband of the late Politics & Prose founder Carla Cohen, chose to introduce me. David called Being Both a “very important book,” noting that he’d done “a lot of introductions” and that Being Both garnered the second-biggest applause. (The most was for Civil Rights icon Congressman John Lewis!). You can listen to an audio recording of the event here.
A few days later, I got off the train at Penn Station and promptly received an email from my agent Rob Weisbach saying that the New York Times was about to publish my Op-Ed. At that moment, I was on my way to give a book talk at the Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side. After thanking old Newsweek colleagues, college friends, and family for coming out to the bookstore, I dashed out to respond to the New York Times fact-checker and editor. Late that night, I was roaming Broadway, looking for a copy shop to fax my contract and tax forms by the midnight deadline. As a result, I completely missed watching my beloved Red Sox win the final game of the World Series. At least I was able to grab a slice of pizza. It was a New York moment.
That Op-Ed became the most emailed piece on the New York Times website for the next day and a half. In the comment section, both angry atheists and scandalized theists posted critiques, while interfaith families poured out their own stories. After 613 comments, the website administrator closed the comment section. Of course, I am aware that Jewish law is traditionally based on the 613 mitzvot, or commandments. Call me a mystic, but I don’t think the fact that there are 613 comments on my Op-Ed could possibly be a coincidence. I just don’t know if the secret message was meant as a subtle chide, or a salute. It’s a book tour mystery!
Next up was my hometown Boston, for three appearances, and a visit to the WBUR studios to tape an interview for NPR’s Here & Now with Robin Young. The interview aired over Thanksgiving weekend, and I ended up listening to it at a rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on the way home from Thanksgiving with my extended interfaith family.
In Boston, I had the joy of being able to celebrate the book launch with my parents, now 89 and 83–stars of the memoir chapter of my book. While staying with them at my childhood home outside Boston, I went through old photo albums and began brainstorming for my video book trailer.
Back in Washington, NPR’s Diane Rehm Show fulfilled one of my dreams by inviting me to be a guest on the show. In the last four months, Being Both has also been featured on an irreverent Slate podcast, in the Utne Reader, Time, the Forward, and Andrew Sullivan’s blog The Dish. (For a full list of reviews and features, go to http://www.susankatzmiller.com/press/.) The book is now in its second printing, so if you bought a copy in the fall, hang on to your first edition!
I am well aware that not everyone approves of the idea of educating children in both family religions. I receive hate mail. Debate over the book has been fraught and fiery at times, and I plan to write more on that soon. But for now, I want once again to thank all of you who have supported my work over the years–readers, friends, family—but also, and especially, those who have asked hard questions and pushed me to better explain my interfaith world and the interfaith world of the 21st century, at each stop on this exhilarating book tour.
For more photos, take the full photo tour at http://www.susankatzmiller.com/book-tour-photos/. And for a full schedule of spring appearances, go to http://www.susankatzmiller.com/events/. Book now for fall book talks!
Susan Katz Miller’s book, Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family is available now in hardcover and eBook from Beacon Press.