Thursday , July 18 2024

Book Review: ‘Daughters of Eve’ by Sally Wiener Grotta

In her new book, Daughters of Eve from Bayit: Building Jewish, Sally Wiener Grotta plunges deep into the past to help find the voices of the Hebrew Bible’s oft-underestimated women. Her series of 12 short essays is more of a workbook—a thought journal meant to provoke the reader to dig deeply into the lives of these women and find their own voices within the echoes of theirs. Grotta mines their lives to provide insight into our own.

Grotta begins by transporting us back to where the beginning began, posing the question: If Eve, that very first woman, had a do-over in the Garden of Eden, would she take that first fateful bite of the apple? Perhaps more importantly, would you? Would you forgo a perfect, yet possibly very boring, world for one of obstacles and challenges yet brimming with the potential for discovery and wonder? And what does that say about both Eve and you?

We accompany Grotta on a personal journey of discovery of the Jewish matriarchs, not from a scholarly perspective but one that is accessible and relatable. The author notes, “Throughout the millennia, the stories of the women of the Hebrew Bible have been re-imagined and re-interpreted, according to whatever the current local culture expected or wanted women to be. Now, it’s our turn.”

Following each short essay, Grotta poses questions, providing blank pages for readers to write their own thoughts or stories inspired by these intelligent, assertive, loving, and inspiring women. The questions and reflective spaces would be equally at home guiding study groups.

Meant for readers of any faith tradition (or none at all), Daughters of Eve explores Biblical women of great power, including the prophet/tribal leader Deborah, and of quieter leadership profiles like Moses’s sister Miriam; strategic thinkers like Rebecca—or the quiet Hannah, whose power lay within her profound silences; and many more.

Everyone, not only women, can identify with any one or more of these great and often unsung women of Jewish Biblical tradition.

Author Grotta is an award-winning writer, photographer, and speaker whose books include The Winter Boy (a Locus Magazine Recommended Read) and Jo Joe (a Jewish Book Council Network Book). Her recently published feminist science fiction collection Of Being Woman (NobleFusion Press) has been compared to the works of Ursula K. LeGuin, William Gibson, and Samuel R. Delany. An accomplished journalist, Grotta has been all over the world, covering a wide diversity of cultures and traditions.

Daughters of Eve is available now from Bayit. You can learn more about Daughters of Eve at Grotta’s website.

About Barbara Barnett

A Jewish mother and (young 🙃) grandmother, Barbara Barnett is an author and professional Hazzan (Cantor). A member of the Conservative Movement's Cantors Assembly and the Jewish Renewal movement's clergy association OHALAH, the clergy association of the Jewish Renewal movement. In her other life, she is a critically acclaimed fantasy/science fiction author as well as the author of a non-fiction exploration of the TV series House, M.D. and contributor to the book Spiritual Pregnancy. She Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org).

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