The New Orthodox

When New York Magazine published this cover story, I had the experience of seeing my name in big type on the front of a magazine clipped to the display wire on every street corner newsstand in Manhattan. That thrill lasted only a week, but the chatter went on for months. The story had its start early on a Saturday morning when, with my coat over my nightgown and my dog on her leash, I stumbled out the door of my Upper West Side apartment building. Before we made it to the curb, I observed a parade of suited and heeled twenty-somethings, none of whom looked like they were just rolling in from whatever they’d done the night before. This crowd, I soon learned, was on the way to an Orthodox Jewish synagogue just around the corner. In a matter of months, the neighborhood became a magnet for the New Orthodox: mostly young, affluent, educated people who had not necessarily grown up in observant homes, or even Jewish ones. I was fascinated, and so was my editor, Peter Herbst. Four months later—after countless hours spent in synagogue, talking with people in their homes, and invitations to Shabbat meals and Passover—I turned in a 7,500-word article that ran at its full length and turned me—a “no job too small or too stupid” newbie journalist, just trying to make a living—into someone who wrote cover stories for New York Magazine.