Barbara: Tell me a little bit about your latest book. Why you were drawn to write about a Jewish theme or character?
Brenda: JULIA’S KITCHEN is about an 11-year-old Jewish girl finding hope and resiliency after her mom and sister die in a house fire. My initial inspiration was to write about grief, about coping in life when the worst possible thing happens. I was interested in the relationship people have with God when tragedy strikes. So often, people thank God for all their blessings in life, but does that then mean God is to blame when something awful happens? That was the question I explored in JULIA’S KITCHEN. Because I’m Jewish, it was natural for me to write about a Jewish character and to have a Jewish perspective on God’s role in our lives.
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Barbara: The concept of a dybbuk might be unfamiliar to kids. How have readers responded to this aspect of the story?
Sid: Yes, even among Jews, I have found only spotty familiarity. But they respond immediately and with fascination when the dybbuk is explained. Kids, especially, to discover there is a well-defined Jewish ghost lurking about. From mail I have received so far, kids especially are enchanted with Avrom, the dybbuk in the novel, and particularly the ending when he tricks the villain into confessing.
Click here to read the entire interview with Sid!