Jessica Keith, Saying Inshallah with Chutzpah

Friday, February 16, 2024 - 6:00pm

We are excited to welcome Jessica Keith for a reading and signing of her debut memoir, Saying Inshallah with Chutzpah: A Gefilte Fish Out of Water Story.

"Jessica Keith has just the kind of fresh and funny voice that our country needs right now. Timely, sardonic, and insightful, Keith speaks to the heart of cultural questions of belonging, and acceptance of what it means to know a person beyond a cultural label. Hilarious and eye-opening!" — Marni Freedman, author of Permission to Roar

"Jessica Keith approaches a difficult and challenging topic with skillful writing inspired by a unique first-hand experience." — Anne Hillerman, author of Way of the Bear 

From floundering to navigating, this gefilte-fish-out-of-water story follows the unorthodox path of a Jewish woman working for a Muslim government.

"Marrying one woman is like eating chicken every day for the rest of your life," the cultural attaché --a.k.a. my boss--warned the week before my Jewish wedding. I replied, "I like chicken." Jessica Keith never believed she could walk down an aisle. With crippling anxiety fueled by unpredictable panic attacks, she said, "I can't" so many times she never thought she'd say "I do." After finally setting a wedding date, to Tyrone, her beau of eight years, Jessica made the impulsive decision to move away, accepting an offer to work for the Consulate of Kuwait in Los Angeles. The culture was unfamiliar territory--with a lot to unpack--she felt lost in translation. Adrift in life and at work, nothing seemed to go right. When the rabbi refused to perform an interfaith ceremony, and her grandmother warned, "You can't marry a Black man," rather than speak up, Jessica found it easier to bite her tongue. But when she hears on the job, "Jews need not apply," it shatters her faith in herself. While illuminating the depths of anxiety and love, Jessica must find the resilience it takes to persevere.

Jessica Keith is a professor of cross-cultural communication at San Diego State University. She graduated from Occidental College and received her master's degree in international education from the University of San Francisco. She has worked for two foreign governments at the Embassy of Spain and The Consulate of Kuwait. A Community Action Grant from the American Association of University Women was awarded to her to produce her documentary, Beyond Our Boundaries, distributed by Berkely Media. She has been published in the New York Times, Kveller, McSweeney's, The Nosher, Scary Mommy, Uptown News, Sammiches & Psych Meds, PJ Library, Medium, and BLUNTmoms. Publications are chronicled at Jessica's website, Jessica lives in sunny San Diego with her soulmate and their three children, the family's first generation of Black Jews.

Event address: 
4022 Rio Grande blvd nw
Albuquerque, NM 87107
Saying Inshallah With Chutzpah: A Gefilte Fish Out of Water Story By Jessica Keith Cover Image
ISBN: 9798888451007
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Post Hill Press - November 14th, 2023