Interview with Lori S. Kline, author of Almost a Minyan

12:30 AM

Doodles, doodles everywhere congratulates author Lori S. Kline on the release of her book, Almost a Minyan! Let's welcome her on the blog for an interview with DDE today. Read on!

1. What inspired you to write, Almost a Minyan?

When I moved to Austin, Texas, 30+ years ago, I found a lively and embracing Jewish community here.  I felt surprised and concerned about how difficult it was to daily, “make a minyan” (a quorum of 10 adult Jews necessary to recite certain prayers and chant from the Torah scroll), especially because we so often had individuals present who needed to say the special mourner's prayer.  That led me to think about how important it will be for the next generations to carry the torch in preserving the minyan ritual, as well as continued overall communal support that is so critical in the Jewish tradition.

2. Can you give our readers an idea about what they should expect in the book? 

First, I hope that my readers will find a fun, flowing rhyme in the text of the book.  There is also vocabulary that may be new and intriguing to many readers.  Next, the story presents characters who are eager to join in traditional religious rituals, and their excitement in knowing that soon the privileges  and the responsibilities of being an adult Jew will be theirs to carry.  Last, Almost a Minyan speaks of the bittersweet nature of the human life cycle and how Judaism responds as a community—to be there for each other in our times of need (as is the case when someone passes away) as well as our times of celebration (like when a young person becomes bar or bat mitzvah). 

3. Do you decide the character traits before you sit down to write the book, or as you go along?

When I sit down to write, the flow of the pen in my hand (or my fingers on the keyboard) begin trickling a story. As I re-read and re-write various sections, hopefully the story swells to a river of a tale.   Once the story has basically claimed its space on paper,  the characters are refined as I work and rework each draft—usually over the course of several years.  It's up to me to pour my energy and time into doing this, and yet, to a large degree, I am simply the medium through which the message flows.   I think we all have gifts, which, when we are fortunate, we find within ourselves and cultivate.  I am enormously grateful that I possess the gift of being an author. 

4. Can you tell us what kind of research went behind the story?

This story unfolded over 2 decades as Jewish practices and egalitarian roles evolved.   My research; thus, took the form of my living and viewing the paths of various sects of Judaism as they approached the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries.

5. If you had to pick one favorite character from the book, who would you pick and why?

I think it is most easy to identify with the protagonist in most children's stories.  I identified with her  excitement in becoming bat mitzvah and in celebrating communal practices and rituals.  At various parts in the story, I also felt/identified with her sadness, confusion, awkwardness and ultimate thrill as she became bat mitzvah.

6. What do you do when you are not writing or reading?

I feel passionately about serving as a volunteer for Refugee Services of Texas, love my lay-leadership involvement in the Austin Jewish community, and relish most every moment camping and hiking.

7. Tell us something personal about you that you readers may be surprised to know.

In younger years, I rode a unicycle that currently adorns the wall of our home's garage, goading me to attempt just one more thrill (but more likely remind me of the wrath of gravity).

8. What's next?

I've a few other, “Almost a...” ideas in mind, but am still in the percolating and researching process. 

9. Lastly, any special thoughts for the readers?

I have been overwhelmed by the wonderful outpouring of support and readers' praise along this path to publishing Almost a Minyan. Please know that every kind word you have sent has arrived with a soft, warm landing in my heart.  Thank you.  

Almost a Minyan

An endearing book for children from 5 to 105 years old.

by Lori Sales Kline

Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Published by: Sociosights
Page count: 40

Chosen as the Children's Book Pick for 2017
by the Jewish Women's Archive

Will she be the one to take grandfather’s place? 

According to Jewish tradition, a quorum of ten adults is required for public worship. Almost a Minyan traces the story of a young girl whose father and grandfather are regular participants in the town’s minyan - until her beloved Zayde passes on.

Without him, it is even harder for her father to find enough people to make a minyan. Then one day, he brings Zayde’s tefillin to his eldest daughter. 

A striking new addition to the diverse books movement, Almost a Minyan shares important Hebrew terms and religious concepts through a compelling and beautifully illustrated story for children. 

"Kline has packed her latest picture book, Almost A Minyan, almost to bursting with themes of Jewish prayer, community, mourning, ritual items and egalitarianism. Set in a small town that sometimes struggles to meet the quorum of 10 adults needed to make up the minyan, or quorum for community prayer, a young girl observes her father's daily participation. Unabashedly egalitarian, both in the narrative and illustrations, the full inclusion of women in the minyan is presented as normative. Families and organizations who share this view are especially likely to appreciate this depiction of Jews and their communities that reflect their realities."

-Rabbi Deborah Miller,
Books and Blintzes

"A warmhearted introduction to coming-of-age in a worship community."

Kirkus Reviews

Buy the book

About the author

Lori Sales Kline heralds from Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, PA, which hosts a wonderfully rich Jewish community that fueled her love for Jewish tradition, ritual and practice at home and at “the shul.”  Following her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Texas in Austin, Lori chose to make Austin her home, largely due to the spiritual connection she felt in the close-knit Austin Jewish community.

In her spare time, Lori enjoys camping, celebrating Judaism with her husband and son, and friends. She previously authored the children’s picture book,  Josiah’s Dreams. 

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