The Measure of His Grief

The story of a Berkeley doctor, his Jewish identity — and the circumcision controversy.

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Press Release

Oakland, California—The Measure of His Grief has barely hit the bookshelves, and it’s already stirring up controversy.  That’s because male circumcision—a topic that most often generates either sophomoric jokes or shrill rhetoric—is at the center of this thought-provoking contemporary literary novel by local author Lisa Braver Moss.

The novel, released by Notim Press on November 1st, weaves medical and religious information into the compelling story of Dr. Sandy Waldman, a Jewish physician in Berkeley who finds himself waging a campaign against the one Jewish tradition that’s still observed even in the most iconoclastic of towns and among the most assimilated of Jews:  circumcision.

The son of Holocaust survivors, Sandy cannot turn his back on his heritage; he must find a way to reconcile his anti-circumcision stand with his Jewish identity.  But the more Sandy learns, the more startled he is by what he finds: the tissue lost to circumcision is highly erogenous; circumcisions as practiced today are far more radical than they were in Biblical times; and around the world, tens of thousands of men are currently engaged in the astonishing, but under-reported, enterprise of foreskin “restoration.”

Told from alternating viewpoints, the book interlaces Sandy’s journey with that of his wife, Ruth, an innovative nutritionist and cookbook author who will lose patience as Sandy lives and breathes the circumcision issue, and of their college-aged daughter, Amy, who must grapple with a bid for contact from her incarcerated birth father just as she’s trying to sort out her future.

Sandy immerses himself in Jewish study, but fails to grasp the extent to which he’s jeopardizing both marriage and career with his anti-circumcision activism.  Could foreskin “restoration” be Sandy’s ticket to redemption—his way to win back Ruth, regain his equilibrium, come to terms with his heritage?

The first novel ever to tackle the male circumcision controversy, The Measure of His Grief is also the author’s first work of fiction.  It will appeal not only to Jewish readers, but to anyone looking for an entertaining read—and thoughtful inquiry into how tradition intersects with modern sensibilities.

“[The] characters practically leap into the room. . . . Filled with depth, emotion, tension and humor.”

—Denise Sherer Jacobson, author of The Question of David

“A terrific, entertaining and very original story you won’t forget. A must-read!”

—Dr. Dean Edell, Emmy award-winning medical journalist ​

“A thoughtful, nuanced, and wryly funny portrait of Berkeley and the foibles of its denizens.”

—Liza Dalby, author of Geisha