Anita Diamant was born in 1951, in Brooklyn, NY, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors who met as interned refugees in Switzerland. She had moved many times across the United States by the time she settled in Boston, Massachusetts where she received her first job writing as a journalist. During her time in Boston, she wrote for many different magazines including Equal Times, an alternative women’s weekly and the Boston Phoenix where she worked as the assistant to the editor.
It was while working for an article on Jewish Renewal for the Boston Phoenix that she met Rabbi Laurence Kushner, who would convert Diamant’s husband—then, fiancé—Jim. It was through her husband’s conversion and learning of the Jewish faith that Diamant felt a renewal of interest in her religion. She proceeded to write many non-fiction Jewish books that were linked to her own experience in the faith: Living a Jewish Life; The New Jewish Baby Book;Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People
Converting to Judaism; Saying Kaddish: How to Mourn as a Jew; How to Be a Jewish Parent: A Practical Handbook for Family Life; and the New Jewish Wedding-Revised and Updated.
Anita Diamant has gained notice, however, from her novels. In 1997, she published a New York Times bestseller in which she gave voice to one of the silent female figures in the Bible, Dinah. The Red Tent was adapted into a two-part miniseries by Lifetime, which was released in December 2014. Her other novels also have links to Judaism. Good Harbor, published in 2001, is a character reflection of her own experience as a mother and wife within the secular Jewish community. It explores the dynamics of being born into the faith as well as being a convert. Her most recent novel, The Boston Girl, depicts a fictional account of a girl growing up at the turn of the 20th century to strict Russian Jewish immigrants and the dynamics that arose because of it.
When Anita Diamant is not writing, she is the founding president of MayyimHayyim: Living Water Community Mikveh and Education Center, a communitybased ritual bath in Newton, Massachusetts. Mikveh has a rich history in the Jewish culture and Diamant wants to bring resurgence to the tradition. At MayyimHayyim, people are welcome to immerse to commemorate a wide variety of transitions and occasions: prior to reading Torah for the first time, before or after surgery, on the occasion of being ordained a rabbi, or becoming a grandparent, or reaching the age of 40, or 50, or 85. Regarding Mikveh, Diamant has said, “We wanted a return to the beautiful roots of the Mikveh—of water as a source of renewal purification and transformation, to open the door wide and make it welcoming.”