Photo Credit: Menucha Publications

Title: Second Thoughts
By: Esther Kurtz
Menucha Publications




We all strive to do the right thing. Don’t we? But what is the right thing? There are so many gray areas? So many details, so many players on the stage of every dilemma. How do we harmonize them all into the right choice? The right decision?

In Second Thoughts, Esther Kurtz maps out conflicts that she then views from different perspectives – pros and cons, choices and consequences – that naturally go through our minds if faced with a similar situation.

There are always issues that come up with family, friends, in-laws, even strangers. These stories though are enlightened through communication and understanding; the ability for one person to hear the other, to see both sides, and to come to perspicacious conclusions – something that’s easier to do when it’s “just” a story. But these stories evoke emotions which can reflect on our own decisions.

“This book has been in the works for over 8 years,” says Kurtz; short stories are developed one by one… Each story reflects something I was responding to in the world. It’s deeply immersed in frum culture, and our unique challenges and approaches.

“Often when presented with hypothetical situations, we easily rattle off the “right” answer – or the answer that’s most in line with our personality and upbringing. In each story I challenged myself and the reader in turn to really evaluate the choices they think they’d make and to consider another point of view.

“Often when going into a story I thought for sure the character would choose one thing, I was the writer after all, but after fully immersing myself in the question, I’d often come up with a different answer than I planned – and it’s based on who the character is and their particular circumstances. There is no right answer, only carefully deliberated answers.”

More than just entertaining, Second Thoughts is also thought-provoking, giving way to discussion and well, second thoughts.

My favorite story was Coup of the Masses about how an average girl finally gets the recognition she deserves but not exactly in the way she had planned, giving us food for thought about how we see people, and what we expect from them.

“I hope the reader will join my characters in their journeys,” says Kurtz, “and vicariously have second thoughts, and possibly (this is wishful thinking) carry it over to their actual lives as well.”

Personally, I enjoyed the stories and found them relevant; that I would refer back to them. You can call it having a relaxing read, and working on your middot at the same time.

Esther Kurtz is a regular contributor to Mishpacha and a couple of the stories in the collection have featured in their holiday supplement, Calligraphy.

I have to admit, I usually prefer true short stories to fictional ones. Then again, who’s to say these stories aren’t true?

Second Thoughts is a good read for women, men and adolescents. They’re all in the book. After all, we all have second thoughts.

You can view Esther Kurtz’s website at:


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