Author's Note included in the ARCs:
I began writing the first draft of Once More with Chutzpah shortly after my first trip to Israel. I will forever be grateful that I had the chance to attend Jerusalem Pride, visit the gender-neutral section of the Western Wall, and see my Safta’s homeland. I even got the chance to meet her cousins, who grew up with her like siblings, for the first time.
This book is a work of fiction. I took several liberties, ranging from the specifics of the temple high school exchange program to moving Jerusalem Pride to January (it was in August when I went) so the characters could attend. I also realized it was important to acknowledge certain cultural elements that some readers may not be aware of, like the fact that there are no standard translations for Hebrew words into English. The most common example many people are familiar with is Chanukah/Hanukkah, though my particular favorite is Safta/Savta.
I included many details from my own trip, but some didn’t fit precisely into Tally’s story. I was older than Tally when I visited, and remember sitting in on a professor’s academic lecture on the Middle Eastern conflict and stopping outside a checkpoint. While those experiences aren’t echoed exactly in Once More with Chutzpah, it was important for me to give my characters other opportunities to explore some of the perspectives I encountered. These moments were and are immensely meaningful to me, both as a Jewish American and someone with Israeli family facing the country’s history and living in its complex present. Throughout this entire writing and publication journey, it’s been important to me to listen, learn, and think critically about the nuanced aspects of my own cultural background.
That said, this is, ultimately, one story. The complete story of the Middle East includes many other voices, including those of young people who live in Palestine or are of Palestinian descent. I also hope to read more stories from across the diaspora about Jewish identity and anxiety and asexuality, and feel so unbelievably lucky to have made this contribution.
Thank you for reading Tally’s story!