by Sharon Katz
Twelve years ago, Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum gave birth three times. Firstly, B”H, she bore a son after 14 years of secondary infertility. Next, she founded a creative women’s learning institution
in the hills of Gush Etzion, and thirdly she began writing a series of weekly Torah thoughts with particular emphasis on women’s issues.
Now, as the Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin: Holistic Torah Study for Women celebrates its Bat Mitzvah year, Rebbetzin Chana Bracha Siegelbaum has published a compilation of a dozen years of those Torah writings, Women at the Crossroads: A Woman’s Perspective on the Weekly Torah Portion.
At the B’erot Bat Mitzvah celebration, Rebbetzin Chana Bracha explained that she founded B’erot Bat Ayin to give women the opportunity to return to the Torah while encouraging them to express their creativity and spirituality. She said, “Women’s Torah and
creative expression go hand in hand. Besides the regular textual
classes, we want to learn as we walk, paint, plant, sing and dance. We, as women, want the Torah to penetrate our entire being, not just ourheads. Our learning methods are not limited to one approach. We encourage each student to express Torah in her own personal way, always remaining connected to the foundation of Torah and the Sages of Israel. We aspire to nourish and encourage our students to plant their roots in the fertile soil of Torah and to blossom, and multiply expressing their hidden talents in the world. Our practical goal is to prepare them to meet their soul-mates as they proceed along their
life’s path as women of valor.”
This book shares with its readers the spirit of B’erot Bat Ayin. Combining classic commentaries, Midrash, Talmud, Rashi, Rambam, kabbalistic and Chassidic masters as well as modern commentators,
Rebbetzin Chana Bracha introduces us to the women of the Torah, giving us many rare insights into their lives, missions, personalities and the influences they have had on our nation, on each of us. Spotlighted
are Chava, the archetype of all women, walking side-by-side with her husband; Sarah, the prototype of all Jewish women, the synthesis
of a good wife and an independent woman who was a great prophetess; Rivkah, a rose among the thorns who learned early on to make her own decisions and act with self-confidence; Rachel and
Leah who represented the worlds of beauty and inner beauty; Dinah, whose innocence led to tragedy; Tamar who possessed the “heart of a
lion”; Osenat, the soul mate of the righteous Yosef; as well as Miriam, Yocheved, Tzipora, Shlomit bat Dibri, the wives of On Ben Pelet and Korach, the daughters of Tzelafchad, the women of the Midbar (desert)
and even Mother Earth.
Rebbetzin Chana Bracha discusses women’s issues, women’s mitzvot and their special attributes that shape a Jewish home and the Jewish
nation. She gives women added pride in their personal and public roles in the world. Every woman deserves this book. It made me proud to be
a Jewish woman.
from Voices Magazine