Bagels and Grits: A Jew on the Bayou

Jen­nifer Anne Moses
  • Review
By – December 9, 2011

Mov­ing to a new geo­graph­ic area is nev­er sim­ple, but for Jen­nifer Anne Moses, leav­ing a com­fort­able life among East Coast Jew­ish soci­ety to relo­cate to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pre­sent­ed spe­cial com­plex­i­ty. The town offered a way of liv­ing so pro­found­ly dif­fer­ent from the life she had left that she found her­self on entire­ly new emo­tion­al terrain. 

To try to con­nect to her new home, she vol­un­teered at St. Anthony’s Home, a res­i­dence for AIDS patients at the end stages of their lives. She had nev­er wit­nessed such dire pover­ty or extreme adver­si­ty. Nor, she soon found, had she ever expe­ri­enced such pro­found self-discovery. 

As she learned to delve deep­er into the love and pain she saw around her, she began to enter a new rela­tion­ship with the peo­ple she met, and found her­self form­ing an even deep­er com­mit­ment to her own Jew­ish faith. 

Out of this rich expe­ri­ence Moses has cre­at­ed a mov­ing spir­i­tu­al mem­oir, one in which the writ­ing shim­mers with emo­tion but is hon­est, pow­er­ful, and care­ful­ly craft­ed. Read­ers seek­ing a dip into the pool of live­ly, prob­ing auto­bi­og­ra­phy will find this slim vol­ume a sat­is­fy­ing adventure.

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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