On Wednesday, November 15th at 7:30pm Warwick's will host Jessica Keith as she discusses and signs her new book, Saying Inshallah With Chutzpah: A Gefilte Fish Out of Water Story, in conversation with Marni Freedman. Jessica Keith is a professor of Cross-Cultural Communication, in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, at San Diego State University. She has worked for two foreign governments, The Embassy of Spain and The Consulate of Kuwait. A Community Action Research Grant from the American Association of University Women funded her opportunity to develop and produce an award-winning documentary, Beyond Our Boundaries. Her bluntness combined with vulnerability has grown her audience with publications in The New York Times, Kveller, McSweeney's, Scary Mommy, Uptown News, Sammiches and Psych Meds, PJ Library, Medium, and Blunt Moms. As a freelance writer, she intertwines Jewish culture with Black ties, love, motherhood, mental health, and celebrities. She lives in sunny San Diego with her soulmate and their three children, the family's first generation of Black Jews.
From floundering to navigating, this gefilte-fish-out-of-water story follows the unorthodox path of a Jewish woman working for a Muslim government.
"Marrying one woman is like eating chicken every day for the rest of your life," the cultural attaché—a.k.a. my boss—warned the week before my Jewish wedding. I replied, "I like chicken."
Seven months before her traditional Jewish wedding to Tyrone, her beau of eight years, Jessica Keith made the impulsive decision to move away, accepting an offer to work for the Consulate of Kuwait in Los Angeles. The work culture was unfamiliar territory—with a lot to unpack—she felt lost in translation.
With crippling anxiety fueled by unpredictable panic attacks, Jessica never believed she could walk down an aisle. She said, "I can't" so many times that she never thought she'd say "I do." After finally setting the wedding date, nothing seemed to go right. The rabbi refused to perform the interfaith ceremony, and her grandmother warned, "You can't marry a Black man." Rather than speak up Jessica found it easier to just bite her tongue. But when she hears on the job, "Jews need not apply," it shatters her faith in herself.
Adrift in life and at work, Jessica learns that it takes resilience to persevere.
Marni Freedman is the co-founder and Programming Director for The San Diego Writers Festival, whose mission is to gather Southern California writers and creatives for a day of literary celebration, creative expression and most importantly, to promote diversity and inclusion for undeserved communities.
She runs the San Diego Writers Network and is the programming director for the San Diego Memoir Association which produces a yearly theatrical Memoir Showcase. Marni has also edited four volumes of the Anthology, Shaking the Tree: brazen. short. memoir.
Marni is also a therapist for artists and writers. Her welcoming, easy-going nature and solid background are the underpinnings of what makes her such a popular writing coach across the country. Marni is a unique writing coach because she has a tool for almost everything. She has a way of taking complicated information and translating it into easy-to-grasp, step-by-step information. Her character worksheets and plotting devices have been met with rave reviews. She teaches writing workshops for UCSD Extension, conferences and retreats across the state and runs the Memoir Certificate Program at San Diego Writers Ink.