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I’m writer Marjorie Ingall; Ask Me Anything!

Hi, all! I’m Marjorie! I write about Jewish stuff — these days, mostly Jewish children’s and young adult literature. AMA!

For years I wrote about books, health, and science before becoming the parenting columnist for The Forward, where I was known as the East Village Mamele (they wanted me to be The Tattooed Mamele but I am very glad I resisted). In 2010 I moved to Tablet as a columnist; I quit in 2020.

These days I don’t write about my kids at all, because they’re old enough to have an expectation of privacy.

I did write a book a couple of years ago called Mamaleh Knows Best, vetted by my children (because there are some funny stories about them in it, though it is not a memoir); it’s about both the Jewish mother stereotype in history and about longtime Jewish values that make for good parenting and good humans.

My next book, co-written with internationally bestselling author Susan McCarthy, is called Sorry, Sorry, Sorry: The Case for Good Apologies, coming out in January. It’s based on a watchdog web site Susan and I started for fun (!) in 2012 called SorryWatch. We originally spent a lot of time mocking bad celebrity apologies, but now our interests have broadened.

The book goes deep, looking at research on apology in a multitude of fields (Susan and I are both science and health writers and know how to read a study), considering why a good apology is hard to deliver — even though we all recognize horrible apologies when we hear them from other people! — and why good apologies are so important and healing. It’s also funny. (I bet we are the only book to have gotten endorsements from Cory Doctorow (“Look, it’s one thing to be wise. It’s another to be wise and useful. But to be wise, useful, and screamingly, brilliantly, hilariously funny? I’m sorry, it’s too much. It’s just too much”) AND former Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, author of Between Vengeance and Forgiveness: Facing History After Genocide and Mass Violence. (“This smart and lively book offers invaluable guides to giving real apologies and to the critical roles of gender, race, and power relations in social expectations and results.”)

It’s informed by Jewish thought, but it’s not a Jewish book, if that makes sense. (If you want a book focused exclusively on Jewish teachings, I betcha I can recommend Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg’s forthcoming On Repentance and Repair, though I haven’t read it yet.)

One topic I’m passionate about is the sheer volume of Jewish children’s and young adult literature about the Holocaust. I would love to see more books on other aspects of Jewish history and identity. (I wrote this for the New York Times.)

Happy to chat about everything and anything! I was raised in a Conservative Jewish family in Rhode Island, went to an Orthodox-run Day School (the only Jewish school in RI at the time) until 8th grade, then attended a big public high school, then Harvard College, then I married a Reform Jewish dude and now I attend a Reconstructionist (spellcheck does not recognize Reconstructionist? OK, spellcheck) LGBTQ+ synagogue (and my awesome mom is a now-retired professor of education at the Jewish Theological Seminary), so I feel connected to many denominations of Judaism in different ways. 🙂

It’s my first time posting on Reddit, so please be kind!

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