Marriage, Celibacy Themes From Springfield Novelist’s New Book


The idea for “A Single Life: A Novel,” Daniel Ross Goodman’s debut novel, “sort of came to him one day over a snowy President’s Day weekend” in western Massachusetts in 2017. Once he had settled the basic details of the story, he enriched it with various aspects of his own personal experiences.

This is the story of Houston native Eli Newman, the most learned of all his classmates from Yeshivas Chelkas Yaakov in Baltimore, who would like to get married. No one, however, seems to want to marry her. After making his peace with the prospect of becoming the first Talmudic scholar to remain celibate his entire life since the 2nd century sage Ben Azzai, Newman leaves his yeshiva community in Baltimore to take a position as a high school teacher of Judaic studies. West Hebrew. Hartford, Connecticut. Finally happy – at least he thinks so – he meets someone who questions each of his assumptions, tests all his beliefs and leads him on an emotional and spiritual adventure that he could never have imagined.

It’s a timeless story that deals with the heavy emotions of the early stages of a relationship. “Anyone who’s been in a relationship can relate to those times before the relationship really solidified when you wait to hear from her and wonder, ‘Why hasn’t she emailed / emailed her? text / a call? It’s been over three days and still no emails. What’s going on?’ Said Goodman, who was born in Springfield and raised in Longmeadow.

It’s also a timely story “in that it deals with Black Lives Matter issues like racism, racial tensions and some of the most pressing social justice issues of our time” in addition to the pain of isolation. said Goodman, who currently lives in New York City. , where he is a doctoral student at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

The first commandment given to mankind in the Bible is “to be fruitful and to multiply,” he stressed.

And according to Jewish tradition, the only way to do it is in the context of marriage, said Goodman, a rabbi. “Celibacy and celibacy are therefore strongly discouraged in the Jewish tradition, because it means that one would not fulfill the first (and one of the most important) commandments of the Torah. “

The protagonist of the book, Newman, struggles with this aspect of the lore.

Goodman – who is single – knows of people who got married during the pandemic and had to do so with only a handful of people present. “I know people always go out. People continue to come together, even if it is more difficult, ”he said. “People will always want to find each other. It is the strongest human impulse there is. The biblical book Song of Songs says that “love is stronger than death. The people coming together in relationships and marriages during this pandemic are living proof of that. “

Goodman’s upbringing in the Springfield area shines through in his novel: Descriptions of Snow, Cold New England winters – how they are such a shock to the main character, who was born and raised in Houston – as well as Goodman’s childhood love of basketball.

Newman is also a basketball fan. “As someone born in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was invented – and as someone who practically grew up in the Basketball Hall of Fame (I threw birthday parties there and I used to hang out there with my friends a lot) – basketball is in my blood, ”Goodman said. “And that definitely leaked into the character of Eli.”

Goodman’s grandfather, former Springfield Mayor Frank H. Freedman, was a sports fan whose dream job was to be the Red Sox radio announcer, and Eli’s love for the sport that was filtered into him through me is something that Goodman said he inherited from his grandfather. . “He would take me here to the Hall of Fame and tell me about the history of basketball, what it’s like to see Bill Russell and Bob Cousy; he took me to my first Red Sox game; he was the first person I called when the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 (their first Super Bowl and the first Massachusetts sports championship in my life). So his influence is really felt in the novel.

Goodman writes on art, film, literature, and sports for the Washington Examiner, and his short stories have appeared in more than a dozen literary journals. He is the author of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow: Wonder and Religion in American Cinema”.

The 289-page book “A Single Life: A Novel”, published in July by KTAV Publishing House, sells for $ 19.92 on Amazon.

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