Rashi's Daughters, Book 1: Joheved

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9780976305057: Rashi's Daughters, Book 1: Joheved

Rashi, one of the greatest Jewish scholars who ever lived, had no sons, only three daughters. Much has been written about Rashi and his grandsons, the Tosafot, but almost nothing of his daughters. Legend has it that they were learned in a time when women were forbidden to study the sacred texts. Rashi's Daughters tells the story of these forgotten women.

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From the Author:

"Rashi's Daughters" is the story of the three daughters of the great Talmudic authority Salomon ben Isaac, a.k.a. Rashi, who lived in 11th century Troyes, France and had no sons. At a time when most women were illiterate and the rare educated woman was one who could read the Bible, Rashi's daughters studied Talmud. They were also vintners, merchants and mothers of the next generation of Talmudic scholars.

Built on seven years of exhaustive historical research and ten years of Talmud study, "Rashi's Daughters" explores what might have been, weaving actual events, as described in responsa literature and Talmud commentaries, into an account of the lives of these amazing women. Talmud is an integral part of these novels; readers will learn along with Rashi's daughters as he explains selected texts. This is also the story of the medieval French Jewish community, how they lived, loved, worked, ate, prayed and interacted with their non-Jewish neighbors. A wealth of material about Jewish women's daily lives is provided, including how they observed life cycle events and holidays.

I wrote this book because I wanted to share my research into Jewish women's lives in medieval France, how the prosperity and tolerance they enjoyed differed from the negative stereotypes usually associated with the Middle Ages. In addition, I wished to encourage women to study Talmud, the foundation of Jewish Law that, until very recently, women have been unable to access. I hoped to share the excitement and pleasure Talmud study can engender.

From the Inside Flap:

Praise for RASHI'S DAUGHTERS: JOHEVED

Recently, a new book titled Rashi's Daughters, written by Maggie Anton, has taken the torch from Anita Diamant, while using more research to explain the phenomenon that is Rashi and his daughters. - The Jewish Newsweekly of Northern California

Anton does for the time of Rashi what Milton Steinberg did for the Tannaim in As a Driver Leaf ... This historical novel will especially appeal to Jewish women, but it teems with information that I certainly did not know before ... Anton's enthusiasm for her subject is infectious, and I came to care about the characters, as well as the relevant application of Talmudic argument. - Rabbi Laurence Edwards, CCAR Newsletter

Joheved, the eldest of Rashi's three daughters, has a secret wish, something that is strictly forbidden to Jewish women in 11th-century France: she seeks to study the Talmud. For years, Joheved has watched enviously as her father, the great scholar Rashi, teaches the Talmud to male students ... Like a mirror held up to the past, this first volume in a trilogy draws readers into the lives of medieval French Jewish women; much like Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, it delves into the rituals of women who were forgotten by history and marginalized by society. - Library Journal

One can begin to wonder if Anton was a fly on the wall, so realistic are her characterizations. Rashi's Daughters was written in celebration of the 900th anniversary of the yahrzeit of the great talmid chacham, who was known in his time to have taught Talmud to members of his family -- his daughters! ... Anton not only recreates a medieval French community but is faithful to many little-known details of Jewish ritual, including marital relations, childbirth, life-cycle events and holidays. In Rashi's time, a daughter was "chattel" and had only a choice of refusal to a marriage, but Yocheved was strong-willed and intellectual. So she was allowed to choose decidedly unfeminine studies, as well as marriage to a young man who wanted his intellectual match, not merely a betrothed servant to bear his young... Anton spent years on her own Talmud study that has enabled her to craft a beautiful story that captures the essence of the times and lives of her protagonists ... For us -- hours of enjoyable reading. - The Jewish Press

Anton takes on a formidable task in her novel Rashi's Daughters. She spent seven years gathering research and it shows. The immersion into the world of 11th-century Troyes, France, is complete. She describes the politics of counts, the making of parchment, the hand soap made from mutton fat and the use of moss instead of toilet paper ... I am particularly grateful for Anton's vivid and careful research into the winemaking profession, which throws a fascinating light on the everyday life of Rashi and his family. - World Jewish Digest

A labor of love by new author Maggie Anton brings the world of medieval French Jewry to life, touching upon everything from parchment-making and Tallmudic discourse to midwifery and grape harvests. ... Anton creates characters who engage us with their ideas and their struggles. In the tradition of Diamont's The Red Tent, this is historical fiction that brings our heritage as Jewish women closer to home. Rashi himself leaps off the margins of the Talmud page to take shape as son, husband, father and grandfather. With a compelling combination of drama, suspense and romance, Anton takes her readers on a journey to Troyes, France during the eleventh century. While frequent reference to ghosts, amulets and magic potions remind us that we're in the medieval world, the characters also experience timeless concerns: pre-wedding jitters, a grandmother's dementia, problems of religious coexistence, and the struggle to balance individual goals and family needs. - Lilith Magazine

I just finished reading Maggie's wonderful book over Shabbat and enjoyed it immensely. I also learned a great deal. She really painted a wonderful scene of Jewish life in medieval France and I loved the characters. Congratulations - it's a wonderfully imaginative and informative book. - Devorah Zlochower Director of Programs, Drisha Institute, NY

With her crisp and straightforward language, Maggie Anton quickly transports her reader into 11th-century France and the female-dominated household of Rashi, the respected Talmud scholar ... Rashi's Daughters is an engaging read on many levels and will appeal to a variety of audiences ... Fans of The Year of Wonder will find many similarities and readers of The Red Tent will be intrigued by the story. - Atlanta Jewish Times

Rashi's Daughters offers readers a glimpse into a fascinating world - a Jewish community in medieval France - and explores the lives of a famous scholar and his (unfortunately) not-so-famous daughters. Anton's extensive research and her imagination combine to retrieve the lives of Jewish women in a way that is both realistic and captivating. This book is a must-read for Jewish women and others seeking to better understand women's religious lives. - Dvora Weisberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Rabbinics, HUC-JIR

For those of us who study the classic texts of the Jewish tradition, Bible and Talmud, Rashi's commentary is the indispensable guide. But we tend to forget that this eleventh century French scholar is more than a name on the printed page. He was also a husband, father, grandfather and entrepreneur who lived during one of the most fascinating periods in medieval Jewish history, and who had feelings, frustrations and hopes much like ours today. In her novel, Ms. Anton has brought this man, his family, his century and his entire social setting to life in a vivid and colorful way. No one who reads this novel will ever read Rashi's writings in the same way. This is a stunning accomplishment!

- Dr. Neil Gillman is Professor of Jewish Philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary

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