Notable Quotes
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American novelist

To observe the rules was to be good, and to be good was to be loved.

TOVA MIRVIS, "Divorced From My Husband, and My Faith", New York Times, Feb. 19, 2014

Gone is the idea that you know where you are headed, that you know who your friends are, that you know who you are. To get divorced is to feel entirely lost on streets that you could once navigate with your eyes closed. The past feels cut off, across a divide, barely visible behind you.

TOVA MIRVIS, "From Somewhere", Boston Globe Mazazine, Sep. 28, 2013

This too is one of the great tensions of the Orthodox world: when there is so much obligation, where is there creativity? When so much is mandated, where is the energizing excitement of free choice?

TOVA MIRVIS, "Sophisticated Palate," Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life, Sep. 15, 2009

There is, I believe, a danger inherent in assessing the religiosity of others. Such deliberations often rely on the use of externalities and shorthand signifiers, while real metrics of religiosity—if this is indeed something that can be “measured”—are always more complicated and more contradictory than anything that can be checked off a list.

TOVA MIRVIS, "Hard to Match," Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life, Aug. 5, 2009

New York — the Upper West Side more specifically — this was the city of my choosing. I went to college there, then graduate school, but was certainly not from there, never rooted, always transient. I finished school and stayed, still feeling as though I were on some kind of long-term student schedule, on an emotional visa that let me stay as long as I liked without ever becoming a resident. I carried a Tennessee driver’s license for 10 years after I stopped living there and only gave it up when it was pickpocketed from my bag. In Manhattan, it didn’t matter. I didn’t need a license. I had no need for a car. You needed to rent a car only when you intended to leave the city, which I could go months without doing.

TOVA MIRVIS, "From Somewhere", Boston Globe Mazazine, Sep. 28, 2013

When we were teenagers, we would imagine that when we had daughters of our own, we wouldn't be so strict. We would give them room to explore, let them decide for themselves if they wanted to follow this way of life. But once we were in the parental role, it wasn't as simple. We wanted our daughters to grow up and get married, to have Jewish homes and raise Jewish families. We wanted them to pass on this tradition to their children and to their children's children. We didn't want them to be exposed to bad influences, ones that might make them steer from this path that had been set out for them since birth. We wanted them to avoid the confusion of the modern world, where no one seemed to believe in anything anymore. We wanted them to always feel rooted in their tradition, to be close to their families, their community, and God. And we didn't know how to do that if we made no ground rules, set down no boundaries.

TOVA MIRVIS, The Ladies Auxiliary

The beautiful table is in service of a higher religious principle. In less religious, and less generous, terms, the concept is called Martha Stewart. Those tables are in service of impressing upon your neighbor a culinary domestic prowess.

TOVA MIRVIS, "Sophisticated Palate," Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life, Sep. 15, 2009

To be from a place: For a Southerner, this was the crucial thing. Not where your house was, not where you happened to live, but some core element of who you were. To be from a place: This implied an almost metaphysical connection to this one spot of earth; it was indelible, regardless of where you lived the longest.

TOVA MIRVIS, "From Somewhere", Boston Globe Mazazine, Sep. 28, 2013

She remembered a story she had once heard: a woman had gossiped about her neighbors and later regretted what she said. She went to the rabbi and asked how she might take back her words. He instructed her to take a feather pillow to the top of the highest hill and tear it open, letting the feathers fly every which way. Then, the rabbi said, she should return to him and he would tell her what to do. She did as he said and when she returned, he told her to go outside and gather the feathers. But that's impossible, she cried. They're already scattered all over the village. He looked at her and smiled. The same is true of your words, he said.

TOVA MIRVIS, The Ladies Auxiliary


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