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The Women's Haftarah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Haftarah Portions, the 5 Megillot & Special Shabbatot

The Women's Haftarah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Haftarah Portions, the 5 Megillot & Special Shabbatot

by Elyse Goldstein, Analia Bortz, Sharon Brous, Susan P. Fendrick, Karen L. Fox

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Women rabbis are changing the face of Judaism.
Discover how their interpretations of the Prophets, Writings,
and Megillot can enrich your perspective.

The Haftarah is a potent tool for understanding the values, ethics, and moral lessons contained in the


Women rabbis are changing the face of Judaism.
Discover how their interpretations of the Prophets, Writings,
and Megillot can enrich your perspective.

The Haftarah is a potent tool for understanding the values, ethics, and moral lessons contained in the Torah readings. In this first-of-its-kind volume, more than eighty women rabbis from the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements offer fresh perspectives on the beloved texts that make up the Haftarah—the Prophets and Writings—and the Five Megillot.

Based on readings that are rich in imagery—some poetic, some narrative, some dark and brooding—their commentaries include surprising insights on the stories of Deborah and Yael, David and Goliath, David and Bathsheva, and the witch of Endor, among many others. Themes such as Jerusalem as woman, the story of Jonah and the fish, and other prophetic images are informed and challenged by this groundbreaking work.

A rich resource, a major contribution to modern biblical commentary, and the ideal companion to The Women’s Torah Commentary, The Women’s Haftarah Commentary will inspire all of us to gain deeper meaning from the Hebrew scriptures and a heightened appreciation of Judaism.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brava: this commentary is brimming with insight and versatility. Read straight through as a whole, it exudes the atmosphere of an intense retreat. Read piecemeal, it acts not only as a reference tool or study guide, but also as a weekly devotional. As in the first volume (The Women's Torah Commentary), there are as many viewpoints as there are parishot. The rabbis come from a diversity of religious affiliations-reform, conservative, reconstructionist-and an equally diverse array of backgrounds: as well as being rabbis, they are also doctors, lawyers, social workers and even a Pulitzer Prize winner. And while they are daughters of rabbis, Holocaust survivors and Russian refugees, they are first and foremost, like all women, daughters of God. Continuing in the age-old tradition of Torah study, this volume draws from centuries of interpretation and adds a woman's touch, but with no axe to grind and no agenda to promote. For example, one need not be a feminist or even a woman to take up the charge offered in reference to Haftarat Pikudei (I Kings 7:51-8:21) by Rabbi Y.L. Bat Joseph that "each generation has the obligation to pick up where Solomon left off and dedicate our homes anew as sanctuaries of Jewish learning, Jewish ritual and Jewish continuity." Male and female readers across a spectrum of religious affiliations can find not only explanation, but hope and renewal within these pages. Those building libraries of Judaica should consider this volume and its predecessor as the contemporary companions to the Hertz Chomash and the recently published Etz Hayim. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this companion volume to her popular The Women's Torah Commentary, teacher and rabbi Goldstein claims that the haftarah portion, that weekly reading from either the Prophets or the Writings sections of the Hebrew Bible, serves as a potent pedagogical tool for teaching values, ethics, and moral lessons. Goldstein has collected feminist midrash, or commentary, on this material from 85 female rabbis, representing Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist perspectives (Orthodoxy's voice is sadly absent). Their commentaries offer diverse and thoughtful reflection on Jewish piety, practice, and history, evidencing concerns for social justice, violence, gender equity, and peace in the context of religious contemplation. In addition, Goldstein offers an index of authors and supplemental readings as well as a reasonably complete glossary of Hebrew terms. That is fairly handy since the author presumes a fair knowledge of Jewish holidays, holy days, and religious idioms. While very accessible and quite enjoyable in its own right, this title will mostly interest libraries with a concentration on popular Jewish works. Sandra Collins, Univ. of Pittsburgh Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Meet the Author

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, one of the leading rabbis of a new generation, is director of Kolel: The Adult Center for Liberal Jewish Learning, a full-time progressive adult Jewish learning center. Goldstein lectures frequently throughout North America. She is also editor of The Women's Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions; and The Women's Haftarah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Haftarah Portions, the 5 Megillot and Special Shabbatot; and author of the award-winning New Jewish Feminism: Probing the Past, Forging the Future and ReVisions: Seeing Torah through a Feminist Lens (all Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Women and Judaism
  • Reform Judaism
  • Jewish Parenting
  • General Judaica

Rabbi Sharon Brous is the founding rabbi of IKAR (www.ikar-la.org), a spiritual community dedicated to reanimating Jewish life through soulful religious practice that is rooted in a deep commitment to social justice. She has been noted as one of the leading rabbis in the country in Newsweek/Daily Beast and has been listed among the Forward's fifty most influential American Jews numerous times. She serves on the faculty of the Wexner Heritage Program, the Shalom Hartman Institute, and Reboot and sits on the board of Rabbis for Human Rights.

Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand received her rabbinic ordination in 1993 at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. She has served as chief executive of the United Kingdom Movement for Reform Judaism and prior to that was vice president of the Wexner Heritage Foundation in New York. Currently she is director of JHub, an operating program of the London-based Pears Foundation. She contributed to All These Vows—Kol Nidre, May God Remember: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism—Yizkor, and We Have Sinned: Sin and Confession in Judaism—Ashamnu and Al Chet (both Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Laura Geller is senior rabbi of Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills. She was twice named one of Newsweek's 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America and was featured in the PBS documentary Jewish Americans. She has contributed to many books and journals, and was on the editorial board of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary.

Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, is the director of spiritual education at the Academy
for Jewish Religion. She is also the director of Tel Shemesh, a website and community
celebrating and creating Jewish earth-based traditions, and the
cofounder of Kohenet: The Hebrew Priestess Training Program. She is the
author of numerous essays, articles, and poems, and also of two books: Sisters
at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women
(Jewish Publication Society, 2001) and
The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons (Jewish Publication
Society, 2006).

Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar teaches matters of the spirit to groups throughout the U.S. She is senior rabbi at Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in the Chicago area, and the inspiring author of The Bridge to Forgiveness: Stories and Prayers for Finding God and Restoring Wholeness; Our Dance with God: Finding Prayer, Perspective and Meaning in the Stories of Our Lives; and God Whispers: Stories of the Soul, Lessons of the Heart and contributed to May God Remember: Memory and Memorializing in Judaism—Yizkor; Who by Fire, Who by Water—Un'taneh Tokef; and All These Vows—Kol Nidre (all Jewish Lights).

Rabbi Debra Orenstein is an acclaimed teacher, speaker and scholar-in-residence. Before repatriating back to New Jersey in 2010 to become spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Israel in Emerson, she spent twenty years as an instructor at the American Jewish University and a pulpit rabbi in Los Angeles. Rabbi Orenstein is the author and editor of five books, including Lifecycles 1: Jewish Women on Life Passages and Personal Milestones and Lifecycles 2: Jewish Women on Biblical Themes in Contemporary Life (Jewish Lights). A seventh generation rabbi, she is also an alumna of the first entering class to include women at The Jewish Theological Seminary. For downloadable teachings and scholar-in-residence information, please visit www.RabbiDebra.com.

Rabbi Debra Orenstein is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Finding (More) Meaning in Jewish Ritual and Practice
  • Unfolding Adventures in Lifecycle, Spirituality and Gender
  • Reading the Bible with New Eyes: Feminist Interpretation
  • Ways in to Jewish Spirituality
  • Raising Spiritually Fulfilled Children: Generation Mentsch

Rabbi Dr. Shira Stern, MHL, DMin, BCJC, is a past president of and certified through the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and currently chairs the Ethics Committee. She has served on the CCAR
Board of Trustees as the vice president for member services. She currently has a private pastoral counseling practice in Marlboro, New Jersey, and serves Temple Rodeph Torah of Marlboro, New Jersey, as its educator.
Previously, she was the director of community chaplaincy of Middlesex County, New Jersey, and director of the Jewish Institute for Pastoral Care, part of the HealthCare Chaplaincy, providing programs for rabbinic
and cantorial students, chaplains, and clergy in the field. She was trained by the Red Cross to serve on the SAIR team—Spiritual Air 450 The Infrastructure of Spiritual / Pastoral Care Incident Response Team (now the Critical Incident Response Team)— and worked for four months at the Liberty State Park Family Assistance Center in the aftermath of 9/11. Her selected works include "Visions of an Alternative Rabbinate," CCAR Journal, and “Healing Muses: Music as Spiritual Therapy,” Jewish Relational Care A to Z.

Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell is the director of the Pennsylvania Council of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Rabbi Judith Z. Abrams, PhD, an award-winning Jewish educator, is widely recognized for making the study of Judaism and its sacred texts accessible and relevant to our everyday lives. She is the founder and director of Maqom: A School for Adult Talmud Study (www.maqom.com) and a recipient of the Covenant Award for outstanding performance in the field of Jewish education. She teaches through the ALEPH rabbinic program and is author of Learn Talmud and Talmud for Beginners, among other books about Talmud and prayer. She is a popular speaker on the topics of Jewish learning and sacred literature.

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