Tess Kelly is a sophomore at Orange High School near Cleveland, Ohio who is thrilled to be part of Rising Voices this year. She writes short stories and poetry, which she performs at open mic nights around the city. Aside from a strong passion for the written word, Tess loves rock music, politics, and her close-knit temple in the small Jewish community of Elyria, Ohio. She participates in Lake Erie Ink, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing love of writing to underprivileged youth in Cleveland.
For someone I spend a lot of time with, I was sadly ignorant of much of my grandmother’s past. My maternal grandma, Joan, grew up in Brooklyn, New York with an older and a twin sister, and her Judaism was largely cultural. Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know where she went to college, why she chose Reform Judaism or how she felt about feminism. She simply never talked about those sorts of things.
That Scottish Shakespearian tragedy, so shrouded in mystery that it is unlucky even to say its name, gave society new ideas about women that have stayed with us since 1606, when the play debuted in London.
It was on Tumblr that I first encountered the idea that all sexual activity is oppressive to women. It was phrased more like, “PIV (penis in vagina) IS RAPE!” but the main point seemed to be that women can’t be independent or free if they engage in sex with men.
We all know the story. The courageous Maccabees, the oil that lasted for a miraculous eight nights. We all know the branded fable, the great tale of Hanukkah that has been recited again and again in synagogues and religious schools forever. But it isn’t the whole story.
What got my attention wasn’t the writing, though it does connect us. I wasn’t drawn in by the poetry or the Judaism or any of the other traits I share with this woman. No, what caught my eye was the measles. Grace Aguilar: British/Jewish novelist, poet extraordinaire, religious writer, social historian, and liturgist; and I wanted to write about her because of the measles.
Nearly 200 years ago, residents of the West Side of Cleveland destroyed the bridge that connected the banks of the Cuyahoga river, separating themselves from East Cleveland, and intending to become their own city. Since then, we’ve built a new bridge and stayed a single city, but we still haven’t gotten over our differences. East Siders think that West Siders are blue-collar conservatives who have failed to build up their communities. West Siders think that East Siders are snobby, rich, white people who never leave their suburban bubble.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Tess Kelly." (Viewed on May 26, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/author/tess-kelly>.