Like a yeasty loaf of bread rich in nutrients, "Jewish Days" transcends the usual flat, bland fare on Jewish holidays. Klagsburn, an author, editor and teacher, takes a fresh look at the cycle of the Jewish year, going beyond the holidays to include events and people that have shaped Jewish life. While she focuses on major and minor holidays and special observances, she also fills each month of the calendar with commemorative datesthe deaths of the matriarch Rachel and medieval philosopher Moses Maimonides, the establishment of the first ghetto in Venice and the completion of the Septuagint, the first Greek translation of the Torah. She defines the biblical and Talmudic framework of each holiday, explains customs, rituals and themes and adds layers of legend, debate and interpretation. Klagsburn's clear voice and thought-provoking entries make this scrupulously detailed resource a journal of the Jewish year and of Jewish life for both the uninformed and the informed. Podwal's obvious knowledge of Jewish sources colors his paintings with as much beauty as his palette; his witty black-and-white drawings bring to life the year's varying moods. Together, Klagsburn and Podwal have succeeded in portraying the holiness of time in Jewish life. (Oct.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fascinating bits of biblical history, midrashic commentary, legend, and lore make up this discursive tour through the Hebrew calendar. Beginning with Rosh Hashanathe Jewish New Yearin Heshvan and ending with the beginning of the creation and Rosh Hashana Eve in Elul, Klagsbrun, an influential Jewish feminist and author (Voices of Wisdom: Jewish Ideals and Ethics for Everyday Living, Jonathan David, 1986) traces the holidays, celebrations, and other notable days of the Jewish year with broad and careful research and some inspired touches of creative speculation. Mark Podwal's highly imaginative watercolor illustrations make this a beautiful as well as a unique addition to both Jewish and general library collections. Highly recommended.Marcia G. Welsh, Guilford Free Lib., Conn.
A blessed combination of two remarkable talents, thirsty for wonder and imagination.
An interesting mixture of feminist inclusion (like attention to the death of Miriam and a number of little-known ritual contributions of women) and traditionalist explication.
Imagine an encyclopedia that is as accessible as a calendar; and then imagine a calendar that is as engrossing as a storybook: these are the delights, marvels, and illuminations of Jewish Days. Learning, legend, history, tradition, and the dedications of a living faith are all stunningly entwined in Klagsbrun's remarkably engaging retelling of the Jewish festivals and sacred days. Podwal's metaphorical paintings and drawings astonish the eye with their wit and beauty. The result is not simply another fine and useful book but a thrillingly fresh invention.