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Conversations with Biblical Women
This rich collection celebrates 23 biblical women, from the familiar Sarah, Miriam, Ruth, and Esther, to the more mysterious Hatzlelponi mother of Samson) and the unnamed "Wife of Ovadiah." Based on the 13th-century Yemenite Midrash ha-Gadol (literally, the Great Midrash) -- a work only partially translated into English and, until now, virtually unknown to American Jews -- this new volume presents stories, commentaries, original monologues, and discussion topics touching upon the lives of Jewish women today. Penina Adelman became captivated by Midrash ha-Gadol while seeking a new ritual to perform before her daughter's bat mitzvah. She eventually enlisted a group of writers to join her in studying the midrash. These women agreed to step inside the Bible and "become" some of their ancestors. The resulting book is an unusual encounter among remarkable biblical women -- from different time periods and walks of life -- who are able to converse directly with one another and the reader. As the writers probe the hearts and minds of the biblical characters, they provide an insightful, behind-the-scenes look into the relationships of women whose feelings and actions have inspired readers throughout the ages. This book is a beautiful example of the way today's scholars are using midrash to weave together Jewish tradition and modern society. In the original Yemenite midrash, each of the women is linked to a line from the poem in Proverbs, "Eishet Chayil" (Women of Valor) -- the poem often sung at Jewish weddings by the groom to the bride and at the traditional Shabbat table by a husband to his wife, and recited at a Jewish woman's funeral. In this new book, the reader is invited to experience the blending of the familiar poem with the previously unexplored treasure trove of Midrash ha-Gadol and the new voices for each character. This extraordinary combination makes it ideal for Jewish educators, teen and adult study groups, readers of midrash, and scholars in the fields of women's studies and contemporary spirituality. It also makes a lovely gift for brides, mothers, and grandmothers.
R. Kahana's Compilation of Discourses for Sabbaths and Festal Days (JPS Classic Reissues)
Long known only to scholars and specialists, Pesikta de-Rab Kahana is a masterpiece of midrashic literature. A collection of discourses for special Sabbaths and festival days compiled and organized during the fifth century, it was well known and studied from the end of that century until it disappeared sometime in the sixteenth century. From manuscripts discovered in 1868 and still others 100 years later, it was reborn. In 1975 JPS brought it to English readers through Braude and Kapstein's translation.
Although Jewish scholars have recognized the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas as one of the greatest minds of this century, the majority of Jews have remained ignorant of his teachings, largely because his work-even in translation-is dense and erudite. Rabbi Ira Stone, who has studied Levinas's work for many years and incorporated his methods and perspectives into his own teaching, now makes Levinas accessible to lay readers for the first time.
Making the Bible a Timeless Text
For many people the Bible is a dusty old book with little relevance to their lives. But for Vistozky the Bible is a living entity that can offer endless insights for its readers if they enter into dialogue with it in the manner of the ancient rabbis, whose midrash, or commentary, has accompanied it almost from its beginning. Focusing on themes in key biblical texts - good and evil, sexuality, parent-child relations, sibling rivalry, faith, and creation - Reading the Book demonstrates the ingenuity and richness of this traditional Jewish approach. It then shows how readers of any religion can create their own midrashim and develop living relationships with the text.
Holocaust Survivors' Stories of Faith and Hope
Memory is about choice. We can choose to remember the past in ways that provoke pain and stir our anger, or we can remember in ways that help us create the kind of world in which we most want to live. Nowhere is this choice more important than in connection to the Holocaust. And never has it been more important than now, because we are the first generation that will live without the presence of those who can tell us in their own words what they have seen with their own eyes. These 71 first-hand stories from survivors teach us to choose to remember for life. Their words are not about hatred and death, but about ethics, decency and love. The stories are arranged to accompany the weekly Torah readings and many of the Jewish holidays, but they are just as meaningful when read on their own, in any sequence. The themes -- journey, identity, resistance, community, refuge, righteousness, and many more -- are universal, but the people are real. And their lessons about how to live more fully the life we are given shine through those dark years
The Forgotten Book of Common Prayer for Jewish Women
The Seyder Tkhines, translated from its original Yiddish by noted tkhines scholar, Devra Kay, and centerpiece of this groundbreaking work, was a standard Yiddish prayer book for women. It first appeared in Amsterdam in 1648, and continued to be published for the next three generations, usually inside the Hebrew synagogue prayer book. A product of an age when mysticism pervaded mainstream Judaism, the Seyder Tkhines provided women with newly composed, alternative daily prayers that were more specific to their needs. Included in this volume is a unique Yiddish manuscript dating from the 17th century – a collection of prayers written specifically for a rich, pregnant woman, which Kay discovered among the rare books of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England. Now, for the first time, these prayers have been skillfully translated and brought to public view. In addition to her translations, Kay presents her own extensive commentary, providing a deeper understanding of the historic, religious, and cultural background of this period in Jewish history. This unparalleled book will have special appeal to those interested in the social, literary, and religious history of women, as well as the history of the Yiddish language and literature. The interest in these forgotten prayers and their significance to the lives of women has now been revived, and these tkhines are ready to be rediscovered by a modern readership.
New Tales of Biblical Women
This is an exceptional anthology of 24 stories about the women in the Bible. Drawing from the ancient tradition of midrash, the author brings to life the inner world and the experiences of these women, weaving rabbinic legends and her own imagination into the biblical texts. Readers will discover Lilith -- not as the night demon alluded to in Isaiah, but as another aspect of Eve herself. Sarah is a moon priestess and as great a prophet as Abraham. Miriam is not merely a figure of song and dance, but also one of revelation, a source of Torah. These stories were written to give biblical women the honor they deserve –due to them as prophets, rulers, and teachers. The Introduction to Sisters at Sinai offers the rationale and the need for midrash – the writing in the margins – expressing how it can be liberating as well as deeply comforting. Perfect for women's studies courses, adult study groups, confirmation classes and book groups.
How to Read the Weekly Torah Portion
Diamond, a consummate teacher of the Bible, provides a clear and simple (but not simplistic) method for reading and understanding the weekly Torah portions. This is a how-to book, not an interpretive one. It is not a commentary on each week's reading, but rather an "instruction manual" on how each of us can read and interpret for ourselves the 54 Torah portions of the year. Diamond provides a set of structured guidelines to the readings, and then he leads us through one Torah portion from each of the five biblical books to give us examples of how we can continue the "stringing" process on our own. He concludes with a personal guide to recommended Bible commentaries so readers can engage in further study if they choose. Stringing the Pearls is intended for all who would like to reach a greater personal understanding of the Torah, no matter what their biblical knowledge. An invaluable resource for Jewish learners, this book will also be an important tool for rabbis and for Jewish educators.
Each of the 30 essays here delves into a topic that gives us much food for thought: the Bible as interpreted through ancient Near-Eastern creation myths, flood myths, and goddess myths; gender in the Bible; the feminist approach to Jewish law; comparative Jewish and Christian perspectives on the Hebrew Bible; biblical perspectives on ecology; creating a theology of healing; feminine God-talk. The volume concludes with the author's own original prayers in the form of poetic meditations on pregnancy and birthing. This book is unique, not only because it is the only volume in the JPS Scholar of Distinction series written by a woman, but also because Frymer-Kensky's personal and forthright voice resonates so clearly throughout each piece. Scholars and students of Bible, Jewish studies, and women's studies will surely find this to be a one-of-a kind collection.