Photo by Gretje Fergeson

Anita Diamant is a novelist, journalist, essayist, and the author of five guidebooks to contemporary Jewish life.

She was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Newark, New Jersey until she was twelve years old when her family moved to Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in comparative literature and earned a Master’s in American literature from Binghamton University in upstate New York.

In 1975, Anita moved to Boston and began a career in journalism, writing for local magazines and newspapers, including the Boston Phoenix, the Boston Globe, and Boston Magazine. She branched out into regional and national media: New England Monthly, Yankee, Self, Parenting, Parents, McCall’s, and Ms. Her feature stories and columns covered a wide variety of topics, from profiles of prominent people and stories about medical ethics, to first-person essays about everything from politics to popular culture, from pet ownership to food.

Her first book, The New Jewish Wedding, published in 1985, combined a contemporary sensibility, respect for tradition and for her readers. . Five other guidebooks to Jewish life and lifecycle events followed: The New Jewish Baby Book; Living a Jewish Life: Jewish Traditions, Customs and Values for Today’s Families: Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends; Saying Kaddish: How To Comfort the Dying, Bury the Dead and Mourn as a Jew, and How to Raise a Jewish Child.

Anita’s best-known book, The Red Tent, was published in 1997.  Inspired by a few lines from Genesis, the novel tells the story of an obscure and overlooked character named Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob and Leah. The Red Tent became a word-of-mouth bestseller thanks to reader recommendations, book groups, and support from independent bookstores. In 2001, the Independent Booksellers Alliance honored The Red Tent as the year’s “Booksense Best Fiction.” The Red Tent has been published in more than 25 countries, including Australia, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. In 2014, the novel was adapted as a two-part, four-hour miniseries by Lifetime TV.

Good Harbor, her second novel, explores the importance of women’s friendships as a source of strength and support through the worst of times: a diagnosis of breast cancer and a foundering marriage. T

he Last Days of Dogtown is set in rural Massachusetts in the early 1800s and describes life in a poor  community inhabited by widows, spinsters, freed Africans, and orphan children.

Day After Night focuses on the experience of women who survived the Holocaust and in 1945 make their way to what was then Palestine, where they are locked up in a British internment camp

The Boston Girl is the story of Addie Baum, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. The novel begins when Addie’s twenty-two year old granddaughter asks, “How did you get to be the woman you are today?”

Over the past few years,  Anita has revised and updated three of her books about Jewish life. The Jewish Wedding Now (a new and renamed edition of The New Jewish Wedding); Choosing a Jewish Life, the handbook about conversion to Judaism; and Saying Kaddish.

Anita Diamant is the founding president Mayyim Hayyim, Living Waters Community Mikveh and Education Center in Newton Massachusetts — a reinvention of the ancient Jewish tradition of mikveh, ritual immersion in water. Visit Mayyim Hayyim for more information.