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BOOK REVIEW


The Torah: A Women's Commentary
"Women in Torah, Women on Torah, Women of Torah," a review by Guilherme Ary Plonski

The multifaceted landscape of Jewish biblical knowledge has been enriched by the publication, in 5768 (2008), of the 1,350 page The Torah – A Women's Commentary, edited by T.C. Eskenazy and A.L. Weiss (URJ Press and Women of Reform Judaism).

This is not the first book to incorporate women's commentaries on weekly Torah portions. For example, The Women’s Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions, edited by E. Goldstein, already in its fourth printing (Jewish Lights), offers a devar Torah by a woman rabbi for all of the portions. And the earlier The Five Books of Miriam: A Women's Commentary on the Torah  by Ellen Frankel, which presents a woman's point of view in a more “folksy” manner, has been out since 1996. But the new book edited by Eskenazy and Weiss stands out among books by and on women in the Pentateuch because of two characteristics:

1. The combination of the Hebrew original text, translation into contemporary English, and an impressive bouquet of comments in one volume; and

2. The diversity of the components of the mentioned bouquet – classic sources and contemporary creativity, rational and emotional emphasis, prose and poetry, multi-focal (contributions from many of the so-called Jewish streams, located in different parts of the globe).

This volume can and should be used for personal learning, in study groups, and as a companion in the public readings of the weekly parshiot.

All comments are made by women, both rabbis and lay people. However, men are also actively present in this volume, by means of the Hebrew text edition, most of the translation into English, design and cover design, and project management.

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The Remember the Women Institute welcomes reviews of books pertaining to women and history for our on-line library. Please contact Dr. Rochelle G. Saidel with your inquiries.

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