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Jewish Tales of Holy Women Hardcover – August 5, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


"Yitzhak Buxbaum has performed an act of vital reclamation, lifting the veil that has concealed the holiness of so many Jewish women from previous centuries to the present. These stories redeem their simple piety and command our respect for their noble acts of faith." —Ellen Frankel, author, The Five Books of Miriam, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Publication Society

"Written in the style of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's soulful stories, Jewish Tales of Holy Women fills a gap in placing the saintliness of women at the center." —Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, author, The Beginning of Desire, The Particulars of Rapture, and Genesis

"Buxbaum's tales allow us to enter the hidden world of Jewish holy women. Deep, simple piety and generosity of spirit breathe through these pages. Our soul— the 'holy woman' in each of us— finds delight in these tales of virtuous realities." —Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

"These stories of holy women are pure light. From the simplest ones to the most miraculous, they radiate the particular kind of warmth and healing power that so many of us crave." —Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, author, With Roots in Heaven

"These wonderful stories are for men, women, and children of all backgrounds and all religions. They open the heart, inspire us to be better people, and fully honor the holy legacy of Judaism. Thank you, Yitzhak Buxbaum." —Melinda Ribner, author, Kabbalah Month by Month and New Age Judaism

"Yitzhak Buxbaum has performed a great service in compiling these beautiful stories of saintly women who expressed their deep connection with the Shechinah (Divine Presence) in private prayer and in manifold acts of loving kindness— feeding the poor, healing the sick, and escorting the dying. The tales show that even in times when gender roles were restricting, there were always outstanding women who excelled in the sanctified realms of study, teaching, prayer, and charity." — Rabbi Leah Novick

From the Inside Flap

One of the great events of our generation is an increased awareness of feminine spirituality. Yitzhak Buxbaum has collected profound traditional tales about Jewish holy women— tzaddikot— of the last few centuries, precious tales that inspire deep thought, that elicit joy and pride.
What is a "holy woman," or a holy man for that matter? According to the Jewish mystics, a holy person is someone who has not lost the holiness that every baby is born with. A holy person is someone who fulfills it. Stories about Jewish holy women have rarely been collected in such an engaging and entertaining form. The tales display a specifically female Jewish spirituality, giving us a peek into a world of devotional beauty that focuses on kindness. These stories of laughter and tears, humility and bravery, striving and trance, have an appeal spanning the denominational spectrum: they are spiritual nourishment for the soul. The rabbis say there are both male and female angels and angels are on earth as well as in heaven. These tales enhance our appreciation of the female angels on earth.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (August 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787962716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787962715
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,214,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My first love was Zoology and my original goal was to become a university professor. I received a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University in 1964 and then entered the PhD. program at the University of Michigan. Because of the turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War, all my goals and plans changed. I dropped out of school after receiving my M.S. in Zoology and passing my PhD. exams. From that time my direction changed, and I was seeking meaning in life. I began to read, first the world's great literature (something I'd not previously done) and then came to focus on Philosophy. I was in the PhD. program in Philosophy at Boston University for a year and a half. Finally I came to see that the place to discover meaning was in Religion, not Philosophy. I became Jewishly conscious and then turned to Religion.
After contact with Judaism through Martin Buber's writings and then Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, I entered a Lubavitcher yeshiva. I studied there for half a year; I entered as an atheist and came out a religious Jew ' although I don't identify with any denomination. Later, I lived in Israel (Jerusalem) for two and a half years -- working, living, learning Hebrew. For almost thirty years I was close to Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, my Rebbe. I have been studying Torah intensively for all that time and have become knowledgeable, particularly in Jewish Mysticism, Hasidism, and especially hasidic stories. Stories were an important part of my own entrance to Judaism, are my special spiritual nourishment until today, and as a result I became a "spiritual storyteller." Shlomo gave me s'micha (ordination) as a maggid (inspirational speaker and storyteller) and later, so too did Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Devoted to helping Jews see the beauty of Judaism, I have made efforts as a maggid, teaching and telling stories in synagogues, Y's, Hillel's etc. I have taught in settings of every denomination -- Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Havurah, Renewal. I also teach courses in Jewish Mysticism at The 92nd St Y. in New York City.
Three years ago, wanting to spread the transmission I received as a maggid from Rabbis Shlomo Carlebach and Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, I began a program to train people to come maggidim. The two-year program, for both men and women, is a great success, and very gratifying to me. Over the last two terms, I have ordained six people to spread God's light. If you're interested in such work, please contact me!
Aside from working as a maggid -- teaching and storytelling -- my main effort has been in writing. I have written ten books. My newest book, The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov, which I'm so excited about, is the only comprehensive book in English about this greatest Jewish mystic!
I sometimes describe myself as a "spiritual Jew." I try to be open, inclusive, and non-judgmental. My goal is be a Jew myself and to inspire other people to become committed, spiritual Jews -- "spiritual," meaning that they know the essence of religion. I have friends across the Jewish religious spectrum. I have broad Jewish sympathies and also broad ecumenical sympathies. As a Jewish teacher, I try to provide a bridge not only between different kinds of Jews but also between Jews and people of other faiths. I could use your blessings to continue my work.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Caroline on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book was wonderful, full of tales and folklore about powerful and holy Jewish women who often did not have the chance to tell their own stories. The author, Yitzhak Buxbaum, has a great respect for holy women and this becomes evident in his interpretations and comments about each tale. The stories are inspiring and fascinating - what makes a Jewish woman a holy person or "tzaddika" is not always what modern society thinks of when they describe powerful women, but these women are strong and courageous in their own right and deserve to be recognized. A book such as this one is long overdue. Recommended to anyone needing some added inspiration and heart warming stories added to their lives.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kol Hakavod to Yitzhak Buxbaum! This is truly an inspirational and extraordinary collection of stories that will lift the spirit. The stories are mostly about rebbetzins (rabbis' wives) who are holy women and the selfless and spiritual actions that helped to define who they were and how they lived holy lives. This book, G-d willing, will help inspire all of us to do more good in this world, for our role models were indeed "Holy Women."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on February 11, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The book is okay. I feel like when there isn't an explanation at the end of one of the stories is when he should have written one the most, if that makes any sense. Also a little disappointed because some of the text just disappears on my Kindle. I'll be reading and come to the middle of a sentence and the next thing you know it's the end of the story and I missed the last paragraph and a half; so I definitely don't recommend this if you want to purchase it on your Kindle.
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By C. Toyoko Waskow on June 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be an inspiration for all Jewish women. It was wonderful to read these stories and I commend the author for taking the time to gather them together and and make sure they are not forgotten.
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