Biography of Nehama Leibowitz Reviewed in JOFA Journal

Nehama Leibowitz: Teacher and Bible Scholar

Nehama Leibowitz: Teacher and Bible Scholar

by Jennifer Breger

Nehama Leibowitz, Teacher and Bible Scholar

Yael Unterman has written a long, but very readable volume devoted to the biography, scholarship and impact of the renowned Tanakh teacher Nehama Leibowitz, who died in 1997 at the age of 92.

Unterman’s focus is on how Nehama has been remembered by friends and pupils and those she influenced and to whom she was a role model. Many will be surprised to learn that Nehama married her paternal uncle, thirty-one years older than she in 1930, according to Unterman for love, and they remained married until his death in 1970.

The volume contains many wonderful pictures of Nehama and her family, including her parents, her husband and her brother, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, to whom Unterman devotes a whole chapter, exploring similarities and differences between the two. Unterman assesses Nehama’s Zionist philosophy and discusses her influence on future generations of bible scholars. A fascinating section explores whether Nehama was a feminist. Nehama herself always said she was not and refused to be so classified, seeing no reason for women to take on extra mitzvot to meet their considered spiritual needs. Nevertheless, she has had tremendous impact on women by serving as a role model of a scholar and bible commentator as well as teacher. Her work has also validated the Tanakh as a central text of study for both men and women.

(from the JOFA Journal)

The original text of the review may be found here.


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