New Jew in town: Meeting a "real" writer

I was running late to Federation’s Young Leadership happy hour one evening last November, which meant I was able to skip the awkward but necessary introductions and small talk. Instead, I hijacked my way into a conversation where someone said, “Daci, this is Rebecca! She’s a writer too.”

“Oh, really?” I said. “What do you write?”

“I just finished a book,” Rebecca replied. “It’s being published by Simon and Schuster in April of 2013. What about you?”

At that moment, I wished I hadn’t been introduced as a writer. Or had at least gone first. How does one who claims to be a writer follow up a book deal?

But when I told her I was the Minneapolis Jewish Federation’s copywriter, she looked impressed. And I realized that I could learn a lot from Rebecca, both in terms of writing and confidence. I thought Rebecca was a real writer because she wrote a book; she thought I was a real writer because I was employed as a writer. Or, she was just being gracious. Either way, she’s a class act.

Profiling Rebecca and her upcoming book seems like the perfect way to kick off a series highlighting connections made through the many Jewish opportunities in the Twin Cities. Not only did Rebecca inadvertently teach me an important life lesson at a Federation event, her book Sinners and the Sea adds to an under-represented genre of Jewish biblical fiction. Written from the point of view of Noah’s unnamed wife, the book tells the story of the famous flood from a new perspective.

A St. Paul native, Rebecca was inspired to highlight Noah’s mysterious wife by her religious school teachers. “My teachers brought these women [of Genesis] to life,” says Rebecca in an interview posted on her website. “But one woman, Noah’s wife, wasn’t mentioned. How could she be, without a name?”

Rebecca hopes Sinners and the Sea and her next book, an unfinished novel about Queen Esther, fill in the gaps of biblical fiction. “Most of it is Christian-based and tends to be more romantic in nature,” she says. I ask her if her book could be construed as romance and she hesitates.

“I’m not sure many people would be into a 500 year old man!”

But that 500 year old man is part of what drew Rebecca to the story. “A 500 year old man that everyone thinks is crazy, a world on the verge of destruction… for me, this material was irresistible.”

Sinners and the Sea comes out today, April 2nd, and is available on and at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, where Rebecca Kanner will read from her book at 7:30 pm the day of its release. Also check out TC Jewfolk’s review of Sinners and the Sea.

Have you made a lasting connection through Federation or the Jewish community? Whether it’s your best friend, your spouse, or someone who inspired you, I’d love to feature your story!Email me at dplatt [at] mplsfed [dot] org.

3038 Hennepin Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

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