What does the modern Jewish family look like today? Maybe it looks a bit like Sylvia’s, whose son is off being a Doctor without Borders — and dating women whom she disapproves of. But at least he’s a doctor. It’s having a daughter whose future looks bright — medical school, dating a Rothschild no less! — until she decides to run away to the beach for the summer. Maybe it’s having a husband who helps the best that he can, but constantly needs your guidance to avoid disasters. Or maybe it’s your other daughter, who has a thriving career — but whose non-Jewish boyfriend is ruining all your future wedding plans.
Sylvia navigates all these stressors while getting ready to host the seder on Passover. And everything has to be perfect — the chef, the china, the tableware. But alas — life is rarely perfect, especially when you have important guests to impress. And don’t be surprised when inappropriate guests drop by and make things incredibly awkward. Long simmering sibling rivalry rears its ugly head as well, as everyone is trying their best to be the perfect host, husband, daughter, wife. And while everyone is trying to hide their imperfections, hidden secrets are just out of sight, waiting to be exposed for all to see.
Take a dive into The Dinner Party and take part in Sylvia’s party with her — and discover just how she manages her family, guests, and hosting while trying not to bump into any family landmines. But that’s the problem with guests — you never know who has landmines of their own.
Click here to read Seating Arrangements, an excerpt from The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz.
Evie Saphire-Bernstein is the program director of Jewish Book Council. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.A. in English and a minor in Jewish Studies. Before joining the Jewish Book Council team in 2015, she spent a year and a half working within the Conservative Movement as the Network Liaison for the Schechter Day School Network. She is a recent transplant to New York City, after living in Chicago for most of her life. In her spare time, Evie is a writer and blogger.