Meryl G. Gordon was raised on the south shore of Long Island near the beach, which is her favorite place in the world. She graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Mathematics and Philosophy. She holds an M.A. in Computer Science from Iona College. Her lifelong passion is supporting, promoting and advocating for lifelong Jewish education. Meryl and her husband live in Stamford, Connecticut, where they raised their three children.
In The Flower Girl Wore Celery, flower girl Emma can’t wait for her cousin Hannah’s wedding. She’ll wear a celery dress and walk down the aisle with the ring bear, leading the way for the happy bride and groom – or at least, that’s what Emma assumes. But nothing turns out to be quite what she’s expecting, as Hannah’s new spouse turns out to be another bride!
With the striking down of DOMA and the broad acceptance and welcoming of same sex marriage in the non-Orthodox Jewish community, this is the first book in the marketplace about a lesbian Jewish wedding. Jewish wedding customs are woven into the story, making this book not just about same sex marriages but about all Jewish weddings.
What motivated you to write a book(s) that is specifically inclusive of LGBTQ families/issues?
When my son and son-in-law were getting married back in 2010, my cousin’s four-year-old daughter Emma was all excited to be their flower girl. I wanted to buy Emma a book about a flower girl to prepare her for the wedding, but I couldn’t find anything that worked for our situation, since we were having two grooms and no bride – at an otherwise traditional Jewish wedding.
Then one day, my cousin called, laughing, and said “Emma said she’s afraid to come to the wedding because of the Ring BEAR!” And I remembered my own daughter who, when she was going to be a flower girl many years ago, told everyone, “I’m going to be a Flower and my brother is going to be a Ring Bear.” So I thought, this is so universal, this has to be a story, and I need to write it for Emma – a story where everything isn’t quite what the child imagines, but it’s all good anyway.
What do you personally feel makes a family?
For children, a family is all the people who love them, take responsibility for them, and create a home for them. It’s about commitment and love. And extended family is so important for children (and grown-ups!). My baby grandson is lucky enough to have two parents, four grandparents, four great-grandparents, four uncles, one aunt, and so many great-uncles, great-aunts, and cousins who love and appreciate him!
What does “equality” look like to you?
I find it useful to think of equality as the recognition that each and every one of us is created “in the image of God”. Therefore each one of us is unique but equal, and of infinite value. If everyone believed this and acted towards others accordingly, then we wouldn’t have to worry about inequality. I learned this long ago from Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, in his lectures and his book “Living in the Image of God: Jewish Teachings to Perfect the World”
Whose books do you admire and why?
I love so many children’s books, but the one I’d like to mention is The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater. It’s a lovely and funny story about expressing who you are and not trying to fit into what others expect of you.
What’s coming up next for you?
I have a few manuscripts in progress. I’ll see if anything comes of them!