by Marla J. Feldman
Published by: The Jewish Publication Society
242 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm, 1 appendix, 1 glossary
Rabbi Marla J. Feldman is executive director emerita of Women of Reform Judaism. She has published numerous articles about the role of women in Jewish life and social justice issues, and her modern midrashim have appeared in several collections. She is the author of Reform Movement action manuals, including Speak Truth to Power.
"Women in the Bible are often unnamed, defined solely by their relationships with others. Take Judah’s wife, for example. She is known as Bat Shua, or 'daughter of Shua.' This labeling, or lack thereof, makes it easy for stories like hers to be subsumed by those of men. Feldman, by contrast, dives into these women’s stories, bringing them to life with depth and insight. Feldman’s analysis of Miriam’s story is a standout of the book."—Jewish Book Council
"An inspirational book, which speaks to us of the issues of our times . . . through Jewish classical, modern and feminist lenses. . . . A masterpiece of scholarship, creativity and exquisite writing."—Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish, Jerusalem Report
"A good choice for a synagogue library or a reader interested in a feminist viewpoint. The book can be used in a variety of ways. It could be a reference source for Rabbis and educators. The author's own modern midrashim can be read as short stories and used by discussion groups or book clubs to spark questioning and further delve into these biblical women's lives."—Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews
"Readers looking to better understand midrash will particularly enjoy the sections on classic commentary, while those interested in new ways of understanding the text will find the contemporary midrash of interest. Biblical Women Speak would also make an excellent text for Torah discussion groups."—Rabbi Rachel Esserman, Reporter
"For the most part the sages neglected these minor [female] characters or viewed them negatively. . . . Feldman brings this conversation into the modern era: She composes midrashim that turn these biblical characters into real human beings, facing problems familiar to those of women (and men) today. . . . Who deserve our attention and our respect, and who should never be cast out of our community."—Moment Magazine
"I am very impressed by the author’s creativity and in-depth understanding of her characters. . . . There are ten retellings (or stories) in this stunning collection. . . . Most of the stories focus on characters that we don’t usually think about. . . . What is most interesting to me is how she enables us to empathize with these marginal biblical women. The book is arranged meticulously and is clearly well-researched. . . . I plan to use Feldman's fascinating midrashim . . . in my future classes."—Naomi Graetz, Times of Israel blog
“Meeting these new role models of Jewish womanhood—some famous, others voiceless or infamous and nameless in the Torah—left me both enlightened and delighted. Reading the biblical text, rabbinic commentary, modern midrash, and Rabbi Feldman’s contemporary commentary illuminated four dimensions of these remarkable women.”—Maggie Anton, author of Rashi’s Daughters
“Rabbi Marla J. Feldman is a marvelous teacher, and in Biblical Women Speak she proves to also be a weaver of ancient, modern, and original texts that give voice to women of the Bible who were often ignored or nameless, filling a void that has existed for centuries. Accessible for both beginner and advanced students, Biblical Women Speak should be required in any class of midrash.”—Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, executive director, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism
“Rabbi Marla Feldman has created a dynamic and compelling conversation among the generations. Both individuals and groups will admire her captivating modern midrashic interpretations and her expert navigation of traditional texts. Feldman shows us how fresh and relevant our sacred tradition can be!”—Rabbi Mary L. Zamore, executive director, Women’s Rabbinic Network
“Rabbi Marla Feldman has added an imaginative, insightful contribution to our collective Jewish library. As she creatively gives voice to both familiar and lesser-known female biblical characters, she shows why their stories matter for us as contemporary readers.”—Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion
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