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Salt and Honey: Jewish Teens on Feminism, Creativity, and Tradition

Jewish teens voice their celebrations and challenges, their anger and their eagerness in essays, poetry, and visual art. From the contributors to jGirls Magazine. Includes discussion guide by Michelle Shapiro Abraham.
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In 78 vibrant works, 62 gifted teen contributors voice their celebrations and challenges, their anger and their eagerness in essays, poetry, and visual art. And their themes are universal, touching on childhood, spirituality, sexuality, race, family, friends, and the world around us.

We are writers, editors, photographers, and artists. We are multiethnic, multiracial, and multifaceted. We are nourished by the sweet honey and harsh salt of our lives. Although we are often misunderstood, we find strength within ourselves and our communities. We are the stories we tell.

This book elevates our stories as we honor the past, explore the present, and look toward the future. Through poetry, fiction, essays, and art, we make our voices heard.

The works in Salt & Honey were created by self-identifying Jewish girls, young women, transgender and nonbinary teens between the ages of thirteen and nineteen working as part of the jGirls Magazine collective. The works include poetry, essays, memoir, fiction, and visual art, and each piece of visual art is accompanied by an artist statement to help put it into context.

The Reader's Guide by Jewish educator and award-winning author Michelle Shapiro Abraham, RJE provides framing for deeper exploration of the works and for those wishing to use the book with teen groups, in books groups, and other venues. 


Jewish teens share their experiences, loves, hopes, and fears in this anthology of essays, poems, and artwork from the online publication jGirls Magazine.

Split into six chapters, the works trace the young people’s experiences through triumphs and tragedies. “We Always Seem To Return” brings meditations on memory and inheritance, highlighting how Jewish joy and sorrow often walk hand in hand. “When We Were Small” tells stories of childhood and growing up, interrogating such themes as gender identity, substance abuse, and antisemitism. “A Healthy Collection of Blessings and Hardships” tells of the body and the mind, exploring the sacred nature of the self while making space for struggles in mental health. “Traditions, Interpretations, and Imperfections” dives into spirituality and tradition, celebrating the rich variety of the Jewish community. “Where Is the Peace?” confronts ignorance, including experiences of racist, homophobic, antisemitic, and sexist violence. Finally, in “Carving Our Own Footsteps,” the artists of a new generation set out to continue the battle for justice and freedom. The offerings in this book are emphatically and unapologetically Jewish, but the stories they tell will resonate broadly.

Contributors include Jews who are Black and Asian, Sephardic and Ashkenazi, and who reflect diversity in gender identity, sexuality, and ability. The young artists and writers featured here bring an appetite for life as well as the teeth necessary to enjoy the meal.

Raw, vibrant, and full of love. (artist statements, reader’s guide, resources, about jGirls Magazine, about the contributors) (Anthology. 13-18)                --Kirkus Reviews


"Salt & Honey teems with the smells and images, pains and joys, memories and longings that prove that our Jewish identity is already held in spectacular trust by these voices of our future." --Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor, Slate

"Some of the works in this book will haunt you, some will surprise you, and others will buoy you. All will galvanize you."   --Leora Tanenbaum, author of I Am Not a Slut: Slut Shaming in the Age of the Internet

"Chilling, joyful, insightful, heartbreaking, resilient, haunting, proud, defiant, fierce, empowered, authentic . . .Anyone who wants a glimpse into the experiences that are shaping today's youth should read this collection."  --Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, executive director, Women of Reform Judaism

"This powerful work . . . is a celebration of what it truly means to be eishet chayil, a woman of valor: for to speak in one's authentic voice is valor in action." --Marra B. Gad, writer, producer, and award-winning author of The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl

"Deep and powerful, sometimes disruptive and disturbing, but most often hopeful and life-affirming . . . Don't miss this." --Ruth W. Messinger, social justice consultant

Read an Excerpt

The Menu is Overwhelming by Emanuelle Sippy

Can You See God in a Grapefruit? by Aliza Abusch-Magder

About the Contributors

Elizabeth Mandel is the founder and executive director of jGirls Magazine. She is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, write, editor, and community activist. Elizabeth has built a record of using media to raise awareness and create change around social justice, gender, and Jewish community issues. Her films have screened on public television and at organizations and film festivals around the world. Mandel holds a BA in religion and a master's in international affairs, with a focus on women's economic and political development, both from Columbia University. She lives in New York with her husband and daughters.

Emanuelle Sippy codirected the Kentucky Student Voice Team and led the jGirls Magazine art department throughout high school. She continues to treasure and support these communities while studying at Princeton University and organizing with Future Coalition. Originally from California, Emanuelle grew up in Minneapolis and now calls Lexington, Kentucky home.

Maya Savin Miller is dedicated to the regeneration of our social and ecological soils through poetry, education, and farming. She was the head of the jGirls poetry department while in high school, and her writing has been recognized by dozens of literary journals and competitions. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Maya would always prefer to be in the mountains.

Michele Lent Hirsch is a writer, editor, and creative writing teacher whose work has appeared in the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Bellevue Literary Review, among other outlets. Her first book, Invisible, a blend of journalism and memoir on gender, health, and inequity, came out in 2018 from Beacon Press.

Molly Tolsky is the founder and editor of Hey Alma, a Jewish feminist website from 70 Faces Media. She holds a BA in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA in fiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her writing can be found in Tin House, Hayden's Ferry Review, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. She is also senior editor of No Tokens.

Michelle Shapiro Abraham, RJE, has worked in the field of Jewish education for over twenty years and currently serves as the director of learning and innovation for the Union for Reform Judaism's youth team. She is a PJ Library and Sydney Taylor Notable Book Award author and the proud recipient of the 2015 Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education.

Including works by:

Aliza Abusch-Magder; Lauren Alexander; Gertie Angel; Yael Beer; Alex Berman; Alyx Bernstein; Leah Bogatie; Isabella Brown; Aydia Caplan; Whitney Cohen; Emilia Cooper; Tesaneyah Dan; Denae; Alexa Druyanoff; Emily Duckworth; Elena Eisenstadt; Tali Feen; Abigail Fisher; Leah Fleischer; Lily Gardner; Abigael Good; Sequoia Hack; Madison Hahamy; Samara Haynes; Ahava Helfenbaum; Dalia Heller; Sascha Hochman; Audrey Honig; Alexa Hulse; Liel Huppert; Noa Kalfus; Alma Kastan; Rachel Kaufman; Maya Keren; Naomi Kitchen; Gavi Klein; Jamie Klinger; Emily Knopf; Aidyn Levin; Sonja Lippmann; Shoshana Maniscalco; Liora Meyer; Becca Norman; Juliet Norman; Dina Ocken; Zoe Oppenheimer; Lily Pazner; Annie Poole; Ofek Preis; Maya Rabinowitz; Emma Rosman; Artie Ross; Sydney Schulman; Eliana Shapere; Michal Spanjer; Frankie Vega; Molly Voit; Abigail Winograd; Sarah Young; Makeda Zabot-Hall.