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Three Surprises for Maggie Anton

I don’t often run guest posts here on My Machberet, but I’ve admired Maggie Anton for such a long time–and she asked me so nicely!–that I had to agree to her request. I hope you’ll enjoy discovering “three surprising things” that she learned about Jewish history while researching her latest novel, Enchantress: A Novel of Rav Hisda’s Daughter, which has been described as “a novel that weaves together Talmudic lore, ancient Jewish magic, and a timeless love story set in fourth-century Babylonia.”

Maggie Anton is the award-winning author of historical fiction series “Rashi’s Daughters” and “Rav Hisda’s Daughter.” She is a Talmud scholar, with expertise in Jewish women’s history. Intrigued that the great Talmudic scholar Rashi had no sons, only daughters, Anton researched the family and decided to write novels about them. Thus one acclaimed trilogy was born, to be followed by National Jewish Book Award finalist, Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprentice.

Please welcome Maggie Anton.

Three Surprising Things I Learned About Jewish History While Researching ENCHANTRESS: A Novel of Rav Hisda’s Daughter

Guest Post by Maggie Anton

Before getting to what I learned, I will admit how little I knew. Although Talmud has been the source of Jewish law and traditions for over 1500 years, only a few scholars are familiar with the rabbinic community who produced it. I was aware that Rav Hisda’s daughter lived in fourth-century Babylonia while the Talmud was being created there. I was intrigued that when he asked her which of his two best students she wanted to marry, she then replied, “Both of them.” And when I found that she eventually did marry both men, I was determined to write her story. That’s when my research really started. Continue reading ›



From My Bookshelf: Barbara Krasner’s Children’s Book About Golda Meir

I don’t often discuss children’s books here on My Machberet. But I decided to make an exception when Barbara Krasner contacted me about her new picture book, Goldie Takes a Stand: Golda Meir’s First Crusade (Kar-Ben Publishing; illustrated by Kelsey Garrity-Riley), mainly because of my longstanding interest in Meir.

One hopes that most of the adults who pick up this book already know who Golda/Goldie is. For the younger folks, a biographical note after the main story explains the basics: Our heroine was born in Kiev in 1898, immigrated to Milwaukee in 1906, and went to Palestine in 1921. She was Prime Minister of Israel from 1969-1974.

The note adds: “Although the dialogue in this book is imagined, the events are true.” The story takes place in Milwaukee, and the plot depicts the child Goldie undertaking a fund-raising effort. As leader of the American Young Sisters Society, she directs a campaign with the purpose, as she explains, of “trying to raise money to buy school books for kids who can’t afford them.”

What’s especially nice here is the way that Krasner situates Goldie as an American girl, a Jewish immigrant in Milwaukee. Yes, she’s far better known in Israel. But the book reminds us of yet another bond between Americans and Israelis and a major figure in whom both countries can rightly take pride.

My thanks to Kar-Ben Publishing for the complimentary review copy.

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Words of the Week

“Anyone still wondering whether Salaita ought to have a teaching job should play the parlor game of reading his tweets and replacing references to Jews and Israelis with blacks, gays, or women. Should an American institution of higher learning employ someone who tweeted, say, that black Americans were ‘transforming “racism” from something horrible into something honorable since 1964’?”
Liel Leibovitz, “Tweets Cost Professor Steven Salaita His Tenure, and That’s a Good Thing” (Tablet)

“Prof. Salaita is entitled to his political views. However academic freedom is not a license for all possible speech: it does not protect hate speech or harassment, it does not legitimate the dehumanization of political opponents, and it certainly does not excuse incitements to violence. Institutions of higher education have a vested interest in protecting an atmosphere of reasoned discussion. Incendiary speech destroys that discussion.”
Russell Berman, “Academic Freedom and Academic Standards” (Hoover Institution) 

“Liberal Zionists need to stop whining about how they feel about Israel, and, assuming they really care, work to assist the indigenous institutions fighting for their values. Otherwise, they’re not Zionists — they’re quitters.”
Andrew Silow-Carroll, “The Liberal Zionist Surrender,” New Jersey Jewish News

“What drove me away was the paper’s incessant denigration of Israel, a torrent of articles, photographs, and op-ed columns that consistently present the Jewish State in the worst possible light.”
Rabbi Richard Block, “Why I’m Unsubscribing to the New York Times,” Tablet Continue reading ›

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Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

As I mentioned on my other blog, I’m about to take a brief blogging hiatus (don’t worry–I’ll be back next week!). So I’m giving you the weekly Jewish literary links a day early. Shabbat shalom, and see you next week.

  • “We are delighted to announce that the Jewish Plays Project is now accepting Submissions for its 2015 season!”
  • The Whole Megillah interviews Kathy Kacer, author of fiction and nonfiction on World War II and the Holocaust.
  • New this week: Hevria, “a combination of the Hebrew words Hevreh (group of friends) and Bria (creation). We are a group of creators, coming together. By working together, by combining our forces, I believe we will be incredibly powerful. I believe we can make a difference in the way the Jewish world writes. And I believe we can raise the spiritual sparks of creativity.”
  • The YIVO fall events program is online.
  • And a fun Jewish literary quiz from My Jewish Learning.
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    Words of the Week

    “Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields.”
    “Statement from Creative Community for Peace and Friends”

    “We didn’t have time to get the children and go into the protected room.”
    Gila Tragerman, mother of slain 4-year-old Daniel Tragerman z”l, quoted in The Times of Israel

    “The liberals among us must also understand that we’re not China or Russia, not a superpower. We’re a tiny minority-nation under attack, and sweeping criticism of this nation is like sweeping criticism of the black, gay or Yazidi minority. Despite the Zionist revolution and Israeli sovereignty, we’re still Jews. As Jews we must defend ourselves, and as Jews we must stand for justice.”
    Ari Shavit, “The Challenge of Anti-Semitism,” Haaretz

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