by Phyllis Shaikun
Special to Community
I remember Rachel Ament, now a 30-year-old writer and editor living in Washington, D.C., as the sweet, somewhat shy daughter of Sue and Mark Ament. Both are native Louisvillians who raised Rachel and her brother, Aaron, who also lives in D.C. with a job “on the hill,” by setting an example and encouraging them to become involved in the community – especially in the tight-knit local Jewish community. As a result, Rachel Ament often found herself with lots of Jewish mothers who also exhibited her own mother’s tendency to over-worry, over-protect and over-love.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
In her recently published book, The Jewish Daughter Diaries: True Stories of Being Loved Too Much By Our Moms, Ament has compiled 27 funny, warm and poignant stories about Jewish mothers told through the voices of their daughters including Blossom and Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik, along with writers Jenna Friedman, Iliza Shlesinger, Anna Breslaw, Kerry Cohen and Lauren Greenberg.
Greenberg’s story about her mother impersonating her on JDate was a classic and Bialik’s tale of her mother assuring her she was “perfect” and anyone who didn’t share that view was simply a jealous wannabe was easily relatable. Any Jewish mother – or the daughter of one – is sure to find something wonderfully familiar in this collection of vignettes.
“The idea for the book came,” Ament recalls, “ when I was hanging out with some Jewish friends one night and they were telling me these amazing stories about their moms. The stories were so funny and charming and almost scarily familiar.
“I decided there was this awesome universality about Jewish moms that Jewish women should be embracing and celebrating,” she continued. “The Jewish mom archetype has endured a kind of brutal beating by the media over the years, and I wanted to find a way to tell stories about them that were funny, but were still related in a loving and affectionate tone.”
From concept to fruition, her book took about three years to produce. In the preface, she touchingly echoed my own feelings about my Jewish mother. “No one loves me as much and no one else’s love can exert such a hold over me,” Ament wrote.
“My mom might overwhelm, overstep, and overbear, but she still bears the torch,” she continued. “She still has the power to guide the course of my life to give it an added spark of meaning. My mom has a way of making me feel like even the most insignificant moment matters. No situation is too inconsequential. If it happened to me, then it matters to her.”
Ament readily admits learning many valuable lessons from her mother (and father) that sustained her over the years. A Ballard High School graduate, she spent her years there playing field hockey, and running cross-country and track and still made time to be an active participant in BBYO activities at the Jewish Community Center. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Tulane, where she studied English and psychology and a master’s in special education from the University of Virginia.
Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Jerusalem Post, Oxygen, AOL, Hello Giggles and other publications. She also has served on the editorial staffs of Moment, Quick and Simple and Nickelodeon magazines. She was the head writer for the New Orleans-based film Nola, and her writing will be included in the anthology The Truth About Memoir: How to Write About Yourself and Others with Honesty, Emotion and Integrity, to be published in November.
Currently, Ament is employed as a social media writer for Capital One and is working on a novel that is loosely based on her experiences as a college student in New Orleans. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring D.C.’s music scene and is an avid karaoke bar enthusiast.
Ament is expected to speak at Congregation Adath Jeshurun at Thanksgiving time. Check Community for updated information. In the meantime, her book is available at local synagogue gift shops, at Barnes & Noble and online on amazon.com.