Praise Her Works: Conversations with Biblical Women

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Religion Bookline

"Adelman is to be congratulated for recovering a little-known medieval text and simultaneously creating a remarkable work of modern midrash."—Religion Bookline
Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

"High praise to Adelman for this new collection. For general collections, high school collections, havurot and study groups, Rosh Chodesh groups."—Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780827608238
  • Publisher: Jewish Publication Society
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 7.02 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Table of Contents

Eishet Chayil : proverbs 31:10-31
1 Wife of Noah 1
2 Sarah 8
3 Rebekah 17
4 Leah 25
5 Rachel 33
6 Batya 41
7 Yocheved 48
8 Miriam 56
9 Hannah 67
10 Yael 75
11 Widow from Tzarephath 81
12 Naomi 89
13 Rachav 98
14 Bath-Sheba 105
15 Michal 114
16 Hatzlelponi 123
17 Elisheba 134
18 Serach 140
19 Wife of Obadiah 149
20 Shunammite woman 156
21 Ruth 165
22a Vashti 173
22b Esther 181
Epilogue : all the rest of the women 195
Midrash ha-Gadol : commentary on Hayyei Sarah, Genesis 23:1
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