Rashi’s Daughters, Book I: Joheved: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France (Rashi’s Daughters Series) by Maggie Anton
“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.
Maggie Anton wrote this book because she wanted to share her 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, she wished to encourage women to study Talmud, the foundation of Jewish Law that, until very recently, women have been unable to access.
About the author
Maggie Anton was born Margaret Antonofsky in Los Angeles, California, where she still resides. 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. This was in addition to raising their children, Emily and Ari, and working full-time as a clinical chemist for Kaiser Permanente for over 30 years.
In 1992 Anton joined 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,ï¿½Rashi’s Daughters, was born, to be followed by National Jewish Book Award finalist,ï¿½Rav Hisda’s Daughter: Apprenticeï¿½and its sequel, Enchantress.
Still studying women and Talmud, Anton has lectured throughout North America and Israel about the history behind her novels. Her most recent effort is the Ben Franklin Award winner for Religion, Fifty Shades of Talmud: What the First Rabbis Had to Say about You-Know-What, a light-hearted look at our Sages’s surprisingly progressive views on sexuality.