restricted access Back to the Beginning: An Exploration of the Roles Played by Eve and the Garden of Eden in Modern Poetry by Jewish Women

Despite Eve's somewhat tarnished reputation in traditional and feminist circles, contemporary Jewish poets often evoke the biblical story of Eve and the Garden of Eden to present it in a more positive light. These rereadings of traditional texts add new levels of midrash and produce new understandings of the original text. This paper analyzes poems by two American poets, Linda Pastan and Kim Chernin, who focus on the Garden, seeing it in the context of other ancient civilizations; and by two Israeli poets, Techiyah Bat-Oren and Ruama Weiss, who challenge the classic rabbinic understandings of Eve. Despite the diversity of form, language and context, all of these writers reclaim Eve as a powerful and independent person. The poets create varied templates for the relationships between women and men in society, revisiting issues in the biblical text such as hierarchy, culpability, voice, and agency.