The University of Wisconsin Press

Memoir / Judaica / Social Issues


Bagels and Grits
A Jew on the Bayou
Jennifer Anne Moses

Outstanding Book, selected by the American Association of School Librarians

Best Books for Regional Special Interests, selected by the Public Library Association

“This smart, funny, wise book is every kind of song—part cheering Broadway melody, part devout religious chant, part rousing gospel sing-along—and Jennifer Moses gets to sing all the parts, in her wisecracking, inviting, distinctive voice. Aren’t we all looking for that sign from God? With open eyes and an open heart, we will see them everywhere, just as she did.”
The Times-Picayune

Jennifer Anne Moses left behind a comfortable life in the upper echelons of East Coast Jewish society to move with her husband and children to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Searching for connection to her surroundings, she decided to volunteer at an AIDS hospice. But as she encountered a culture populated by French Catholics and Evangelical Christians, African Americans and Cajuns, altruistic nurses and nuns, ex-cons, street-walkers, impoverished AIDS patients, and healers of all stripes, she found she had embarked on an unexpected journey of profound self-discovery and a deep commitment to her faith—a Judaism that asks not for blind belief, but rather daily commitment.

"A powerful, witty, honest, and probing spiritual autobiography of the first order. . . . Moses grows and grows in this book as she opens more and more to the love and faith and pain around her."—Rodger Kamenetz, author of The Jew in the Lotus and The History of Last Night's Dream

Jennifer Anne Moses is a pleasant woman with short dark hair. This is a photo from her twin's bar and bat mitzah.Jennifer Anne Moses is a writer now living in Montclair, New Jersey. Her essays, reporting, reviews, and travel and opinion pieces have appeared frequently in the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution,and Salon. She is the author of Visiting Hours, Food and Whine, Just Give Me One Piece of Gum, and Songs You Can Sing to Your Dog.

Jennifer Moses has a web site, with more information about this book:

There is a press kit for this title. Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

The cover of bagels and grits is beige, with the business end of a gator's tail at upper left. The title is in spiky red type.

October 2013

LC: 2007011823 F
180 pp.  6 x 9

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"An enchanting, enthralling, and enlightening memoir–part Nora Ephron, part Harold Kushner, and–happily–uniquely Jennifer Anne Moses! An exciting, tender, and most affecting voyage of discovery."
—Jay Neugeboren, author of Imagining Robert, The Stolen Jew, and News from the New American Diaspora

"Bagels and Grits is one of the most moving spiritual memoirs I've ever read. From beginning to end it held me enthralled."
—James Wilcox, director of creative writing, Louisiana State University and author of Heavenly Days and Hunk City

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Updated 3/27/14

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