Rachel Would Be Proud


A new take on the oldest Jewish book — a woman’s perspective — is the Jewish Book Council’s pick of the year.

“The Torah: A Women’s Commentary” (URJ Press), edited by Tamara Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea Weiss, was announced this week as winner of the Everett Family Foundation’s Jewish Book of the Year Award.

“The Torah,” which emphasizes Jewish women in the Bible and offers a women’s perspective, is the first such collection of scholarship and commentary on Jewish scriptures written by women in several countries and in Jewish denominations.

“No one questions why women should read a Torah commentary written by men,” Rabbi Weiss wrote in The Jerusalem Post last year. “For the longest time, that is all we had. The new commentary does not seek to supplant existing Torah commentaries, but to supplement them, adding an array of new voices to our collective conversation about the Torah.”

Benny Morris’s “1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War” (Yale University Press) won the Gerrard and Ella Berman Memorial Award in the history category, and two other books about Jewish women and the Torah — “A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book” (Spiegel & Grau), edited by Aliza Lavie, and Esther Takac’s “Genesis — the Book with Seventy Faces: A guide for the Family” also won JBC awards.

Other winners included “The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest’s Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews” (Palgrave Macmillan) by Father Patrick Desbois and “Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey” (Jewish Lights Publishing) by Rabbi Harold Schulweis.

The authors of those books and 14 others will be honored March 5 at the Center for Jewish History.