One Hundred Philistine Foreskins

One Hundred Philistine Foreskins

by Tova Reich


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One Hundred Philistine Foreskins centers on the life of Temima Ba'alatOv, known also as Ima Temima, or Mother Temima, a charismatic woman rabbi of extraordinary spiritual power and learning, and an utterly original interpreter of the Hebrew Bible. Temima is revered as a guru with prophetic, even messianic powers—one who dares to raise her woman’s “naked” voice even in the face of extreme hostility by the traditional establishment. Moving between two worlds—Temima as a child in Brooklyn and Temima as an adult in Jerusalem—the story reveals the forces that shaped her, including the early loss of her mother; her spiritual and intellectual awakening; her complex relationship with her father, a ritual slaughterer; her forced marriage; her “ascent” to Israel; and her intense romantic involvements with charismatic men who launch her toward her destiny as a renowned woman leader in Israel.

True to Reich’s voice as a satirist of humanity's darker inclinations, the story is rooted in contemporary times, revealing the extreme and ecstatic expressions of religion, as well as the power of religion and religious authorities to use and abuse the faithful, both spiritually and physically, with life-altering and crushing consequences. Cynthia Ozick said of Tova Reich that her “verbal blade is amazingly, ingeniously, startlingly, all-consumingly, all-encompassingly, deservedly, and brilliantly savage.” This has never been more true than in One Hundred Philistine Foreskins, a work of literature sure to be hailed as an immensely authoritative and fearlessly bold tour-de-force.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781619022805
Publisher: Counterpoint Press
Publication date: 03/18/2014
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tova Reich is the author of the novels My Holocaust, The Jewish War, Master of the Return , and Mara. Her stories have appeared in the Atlantic, Harper's, AGNI , and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Wallant Book Award, the National Magazine Award for Fiction, as well as other prizes. She lives on the fringe of Washington, DC.

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Excerpt from One Hundred Philistine Foreskins

Women, slaves, and children are exempted from studying Torah. That is the first axiom stated by the second Moses—Rabbi Dr. Moses son of Maimon, the formidable medieval philosopher and physician known as Rambam or Maimonides for whom the Boro Park, Brooklyn hospital where Temima came into this world was later named. To Reb Berel Bavli, man of action and appetites, Maimonides’ dictum meant that even if a woman appeared to be studying, in reality she was not. It was an illusion since she was exempt; it was impossible since her mind was not suited as Maimonides the rationalist correctly pointed out, it could encourage lasciviousness, Maimonides the moralist cautioned.

Still, Reb Berish was not worried. A girl with her nose all the time in a book who never even bothered to look up to give you a little smile once in a while was not exactly high on the charts in the hoo-ha department. Whatever she was doing by herself all the time with those books, it was not something to be taken seriously—it was like a hobby, nothing more, a phase that would soon pass when she was married off and had children of her own and no time to waste on such shtoos , such nonsense and extracurriculars.

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