Recently, a group of authors and poets gathered at Afikomen Books in Berkeley, CA, for an event titled Jewish Women & Spirituality, to read work they had published in Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal. I read an excerpt from “Second Glances,” which appeared in Bridges last year. It’s a piece I wrote with my friend Nzinga Kone-Miller, about the intersections of our identities as African American Jews.

I found the reading extremely moving. My fellow writers were/ are a phenomenal group of women, with incredible stories to share. I felt very privileged to be in their presence, and to hear their words. Unfortunately, my co-writer Nzinga couldn’t make it to the event, so I read excerpts from our piece on my own.

During my time at the podium, I felt a deep sense of connection with the audience, and it was a very powerful experience for me. The excerpts I read were about the experiences I’ve had of people reading my face, or, more specifically, reading (or not reading) Jewishness in my face. It was a strange sensation, to talk to a room full of Jews about my face, and what other Jews have had to say about its Jewishness — while the audience members were looking at me, at the very face I was describing! It felt vulnerable, delicate, and odd. But wonderful, too.

Thank you to Nitza Agam for organizing the event, to Alison at Afikomen for coordinating things, to JVoices and Zeek Magazine for co-sponsoring, and to Nitza, Abby Caplin, Juliana Birnbaum Fox and Lenore Weiss for sharing their work.