A Book Star Is Porn

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Sarah Rosen, a 24-year-old budding actress and writer, elicits giggles with her book 'Kosher Porn,' which she intended as a response to the Pew survey on American Jewry.

When the 2013 Pew Research Center report, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” was published, many saw it as a call to action to help create a stronger Jewish identity for themselves and others in order to stem the tide flowing away from the long-established definitions of what it means to be Jewish.
 
Sarah Rosen’s contribution to the effort: porn.
 
Specifically, a Tumblr account called Porn4Jews featuring memes of fully dressed, attractive Members of the Tribe declaring their desire to be in a relationship with another MOT. For example: a young woman standing in a field of flowers with a caption that reads, “You make every day feel like Simchat Torah,” and a bedroom-eyed young man in kipah and tallit subtitled, “I want you to be my plus one at my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah.”
 
Rosen, a 24-year-old actor/writer from New Haven, Conn., obviously uses the in-vogue PG definition of porn in the title of her blog as well as her new book, Kosher Porn, which she will be discussing and signing at Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr as part of the bookstore’s Jewish Book Month, which began Nov. 15 and will continue through next month.
 
Immediately after reading about the Pew study in The New York Times, she says, she knew she wanted to do something constructive to fight back against the mostly negative findings about the state of Am­erican Jewry.
 
Her timing was providential: Porn4Jews premiered just before Thanksgivukkah, last year’s confluence of Chanukah and Thanksgiving — just when news outlets of all types were looking for Jewish-themed content to play off the once-in-several-millennia occurrence. 
 
“It was great because people were talking about Jewish things,” Rosen says. “The Tumblr got covered by Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Jewcy, the Jeru­salem Post. Through the press, we were getting some good pageviews; it was really helpful when I decided to turn it into a book a few months later.”
 
The 2012 Yale University graduate, who grew up attending Shabbat services every Saturday at the school’s Hillel, says there was never any doubt that porn would be part of the book as well, even though she knew that it could be a turnoff to a significant segment of the book-buying public.
 
“For older people, it is a bit of a shocker,” she acknowledges, “but for my generation, it’s been appropriated into our speech, like ‘food porn.’ But when they look at the book and realize what it’s about, they tend to really like it. Non-Jewish people seem to enjoy it, too, even if they don’t get all the jokes.”
 
Rosen makes a point of checking to make sure that bookstores are carrying her book. “When I ask, ‘Hi, do you have Kosher Porn?’ the salesperson immediately giggles.”
 
The author has numerous connections to Philadelphia, both personal and professional. Her mother grew up in the area, and the photographer for Kosher Porn, Tom Stokes, is based in the city. In addition, one of Rosen’s recent acting gigs, the web series Young Like Us, about three friends who decide that the best way to stay in touch after college is by forming a band, won the 2014 Philadelphia FirstGlance Film Festival in October.
 
She is unsure of what her next venture will be, reasoning: “I got out of college two and a half years ago, and I’m still trying to parse it all out,” she says.
 
Meanwhile, she is enjoying the attention both she and her book are getting — most of the time. One of the downsides of writing a book that features attractive, young Jewish singles signaling that they are interested in making a commitment has led to more than one type of fan letter landing in her inbox. “I have gotten some unsolicited emails from … interesting characters,” she says with a little laugh.
 
For her, Kosher Porn has pro­ven to be more effective on the page than in reality. “I have noticed that it is a book about my dating life,” the currently single author adds, “but I haven’t noticed it having an impact on my actual life.” 
 
IF YOU GO
Sarah Rosen 
Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. 
Main Point Books
1041 W. Lancaster Ave., 
Bryn Mawr
For more on Jewish Book Month: mainpointbooks.com; 601-525-1480
 
 

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