"Gefilte Fish Out of Water"

To hear Ophira Edut tell it, her website "Jewgirl: Tales of a Babe in Goyland" grew out of a cultural deprivation. In 1998, the [Israeli-American], Detroit-bred writer and editor found herself agreeing to a job which required a 6-month stint in Duluth, Minn.

"I saw it as a social experiment," the 26-year-old Ms. Edut told the Forward, "I was one of the only Jews in Duluth. It was the last place on earth someone would expect me to be." Last fall, she launched "Tales of a Babe in Goyland" as a way to maintain her sanity and identity.

"I'm a SuperSemite. A desert diva...Raised in Motown like a gefilte fish out of water," declares Ms. Edut on her web site. "This is the only place I've ever been where all the brunettes have blond roots and the Irish people are considered 'ethnic.'" Ms. Edut, who is also the editor of the anthology "Adios, Barbie: Young Women Write About Body Image and Identity" (Seal Press), goes on to write: "I'm a loud, combative five-foot-two Jewess whose roots tend toward the darker side. To say I don't quite fit here is an understatement. Can I survive this exile?"

Her decidedly personal web site chronicles her "exile," with features such as the "unofficial Duluth-to-Jewish dictionary, "Goyz in the Hood," and testimonies from other "former Duluth Jews."

It might not have always been pleasant--the "food in Duluth was really bland," she said--but Ms. Edut managed to survive. She moved to New York City a year ago; and despite this newfound proximity to more than a million Jews, the web site continues, albeit with a broader focus. Recent pieces include "Tales of an Israeli Landscaper's Daughter," in which Ms. Edut rails against stereotypes--"Excuse me, but since when did my bank account become the divine yardstick of my Jewishness?"

In these times of dot-com mania, it is only fitting that what was once a hobby for Ms. Edut has now become her principal source of support. She is currently developing a large interactive web site aimed at young women called, of which "Babe in Goyland" will be one part. The web site will be released in March. "It began as a diary," Ms. Edut said, "now it's being expanded into a community."

While her time in Minnesota proved instructive, Ms. Edut views her move to Manhattan with relief. "I was considered loud in Duluth, but here, people are always asking me to speak up," she said. (Ellen Umansky)