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Rashi's Daughters, Book 1: Joheved Paperback – January 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Rashi's Daughters (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Banot Press; 1st edition (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976305054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976305057
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This carefully researched work provides a glimpse into the little-known medieval Jewish world in which Rashi lived and worked." -- Naomi Ragen, Dec 2004

Anton turns sketchy knowledge of Solomon ben Isaac (Rashi) and his family into an absorbing historical novel. -- Jewish Times News, August 18, 2005

Much like The Red Tent, it delves into rituals of women who were forgotten by history and marginalized by society. -- Library Journal, July 12, 2005

Recreates a medieval French community faithful to little-known details of Jewish ritual, including marital relations, childbirth, life-cycle events and holidays. -- The Jewish Press, Jan 11, 2006

Takes the torch from Anita Diamant, while using more research to explain the phenomenon that is Rashi and his daughters. -- The J of Northern California, August 25, 2005

The way Anton's extensive research and imagination combine to retrieve the lives of Jewish women is realistic and captivating. -- Dvora Weisberg, Nov 2004

 Blending passages of Talmudic argument with imagined human dramas of the medieval scholar's household, it entertains and educates. -- Judith R. Baskin, Dec 2004

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.

More About the Author

Maggie Anton is the award-winning author of "Rashi's Daughters," historical novels set in the household of the great medieval Jewish scholar, whose daughters studied Talmud when these sacred texts were forbidden to women. The first book of her new series, "Rav Hisda's Daughter: A Novel of Love, The Talmud and Sorcery," which takes place in 3rd-century Babylonia as the Talmud is being created, was selected for 2012 National Jewish Book Award in Fiction and Library Journal's choice for Best 2012 Historical Fiction.

A native of Los Angeles, Maggie worked for over 30 years as a clinical chemist for Kaiser Permanente before becoming an author. Raised in a secular, socialist household, she reached adulthood with little knowledge of her Jewish religion. All that changed when David Parkhurst, who was to become her husband, entered her life, and they both discovered Judaism as adults. That was the start of a lifetime of Jewish education, synagogue involvement, and ritual observance.

In 1992 Anton learned about a women's Talmud class taught by Rachel Adler, now a professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. To her surprise, she fell in love with Talmud, a passion that has continued unabated for twenty years. Intrigued that the great Talmudic scholar Rashi had no sons, only daughters, Anton researched the family and decided to write novels about them. Thus the award-winning trilogy, Rashi's Daughters, was born.
Still studying women and Talmud, Anton has lectured throughout North America and Israel about the history behind her novels. You can follow her blog and contact her at her website, www.maggieanton.com.

"Rashi's Daughters:Book I - JOHEVED" was published in 2005, in honor of the 900th anniversary of Rashi's death, "Book II-MIRIAM" in 2007, and "Book III - RACHEL" in August 2009 by Plume. A YA version for ages 9-14, "Rashi's Daughter: Secret Scholar" was published in 2008 by JPS. Volume 1 of "Rav Hisda's Daughter" was published by Plume in Aug 2012 and it's sequel is due out in 2014.

Customer Reviews

Very well researched and well written historical novel.
Manfred Luttinger
I found the setting of 11th century village life immensely interesting, along with the religious practices involving the Talmud and the role of women at this time.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys romance and history and I am looking forward to the other two books in this trilogy of Rashi's Daughters.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Set in 1068, Rashi's Daughters: A Novel of Life, Love and Talmud in Medieval France is a novel about a winemaker and Talmud scholar, who undertakes an action that would be viewed negatively by the community if it became known - he dares to teach the Talmud to his three daughters. The eldest daughter finds her mind and spirit awakened with her learning, yet knows she must keep her knowledge hidden, even from her betrothed. Yet when she and her husband encounter their first crisis, the eldest daughter must make the fateful choice between marital happiness and her true self. A forceful novel of the power of learning, faith, and the two sides of love.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Charlie_in_la on December 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
I became interested in this book through a friend. I was fascinated by how the author made these medieval times come alive. Her discussions of medical care, herbology, and most important Talmud and studying were a wonderful backdrop for this entrancing tale.

Not being Jewish, I don't really understand the discussions of Talmud; I have not studied them. But, I do, through this book, understand their importance and meaning to Johoved. The author has somehow shared that in her book.

I look forward to her next book. If it is as well-written as this, it should be a "best-seller".
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By D. L. Lederman on May 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am an Orthodox Jew who happens to deeply enjoy history and well-written historic fiction. I have strongly mixed feelings about this book. I am deeply impressed with the research that went into this book as well as Anton's ability to compile an enjoyable story from her research.

Unfortunately, it is clear that Anton does not know enough about living the type of authentically observant life that Rashi and his family enjoyed to write about these people without over-laying them with a 21st century mentality.

Those of us who follow the traditions given down from parent to child over the generations know that Rashi's daughters did not wear tefillin and learn Talmud because they were rebels. On the contrary, they were very holy women who followed the law to the letter. Judaism is, at its authentic pure level, NOT a sexist religion.

Further, those of us who live the observant lifestyle are aware at a bone-deep level the benefits of abstaining from prohibited activites. E.g., the prohibition against mature, unmarried men and women touching at all (not to mention "making out" or "snogging" or what have you), along with the observance of the laws of married life, create an intense, passionate bond between husband and wife. No intelligent woman (or man) who has lived this lifestyle and learned significant amounts of Torah (the term Torah is often used to include the Talmud, Mishnah, Midrashim, etc. - basically all of the accumulated studies) would be foolish enough to put themselves in a position such as the female characters in this book found themselves with their "beaux."

To clarify what one of the other reviewers stated, yes, Jewish women at that time were mostly illiterate - especially as regards to Judaic studies. But so were most of the Jewish men.
Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By j.k.kane on July 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Rashi's Daughters quickly draws the reader into a well- researched, brilliantly-nuanced medieval world rich with timely details that are fascinating to us today. Hygiene and herbal remedies of the time -- remedies that could well be relevant to our needs today -- share space with subtle treatments of timeless life issues such as sexist and non-sexist traditions, premarital sex, respect for others, and details of viticulture and winemaking, all with a Jewish perspective.

We REALLY care about the characters, both because Maggie Anton is a marvelous writer, and also because we know that many were real people who were important to Jewish history, law, letters and culture.

I loved reading this book out loud with my 86 year old mother, who loved it! If I had a daughter over the age of perhaps 15, I'd read it out loud with her, too! This book could well be appropriate, as well -- and a great "ice-breaker"-- for groups discussing Jewish orthodox sex issues. While certain explicit sexual descriptions may not be appropriate for younger children under the age of 15, other chapters and sections of the book are perfect for reading out loud to children of any age, and may well initiate interest in Talmudic study, history, and current events. This book is a true tour de force of historical fiction, and I can't wait to read the next books of the trilogy and bury my nose in Maggie Anton's words and worlds. Mazal Tov to writer and readers alike! This book is a major gift to the greater Jewish library, although non-Jews will also love it and find it fascinating. Parental discretion is advised for chidren under 15 reading certain parts of the book. The rest of us can dig in and relish it all!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Elke Martin on January 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
How often do you encounter the situation that you start a new book, and all you need is a cup of tea and limitless time to feel like you're in paradise? Well, that's what it was like when I opened "Joheved", the description of Rashi's oldest daughter's life. Maggie Anton succeeds in painting a lively picture of the times, including their way of making a living, gender roles and limitations, family life and - last not least the religious life. All is interwoven into a colorful dynamic presentation plus - from a woman's perspective. From time to time I forgot that it was fiction; historic fact and Anton's fantasy blend easily. The reading pleasure was well worth the 2 very short nights of sleep, and I only wished she could write the second book as fast as I read!
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