Siegelbaum, Rebbetzin Chana Bracha. Women at the Crossroads: A Woman’s Perspective on the Weekly Torah Portion. Bat Ayin, Israel: Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, 2010. 229 pp. (978193668098)
Rebbetzin Siegelbaum is the founder and director of Midreshet B’erot Bat Ayin, “an innovative women’s seminary in Israel offering a holistic, experiential approach to Torah living and learning, teaching women from all walks of life and of all ages.” The selections for each Torah portion were compiled from a weekly email newsletter. The descriptions of the seminary and its goals may give the impression of a “New Age” approach, but the author employs classical textual analysis. There are discussions women mentioned in the Torah, as well as specific mitzvot (challah, lighting candles), and analyses of language and syntax that emphasize the feminine. The last essay is a little preachy about women’s learning, but the others are insightful and erudite. Rather than taking a feminist tack or creating midrash, Rebbetzin Seigelbaum stresses the unique role of the feminine in all aspects of life and how it has contributed to “the molding of the Jewish people throughout the ages.” The book includes approbations from noted teachers and rabbis.
The back matter includes an index, a glossary and biographies of commentators. These elements make it accessible for those familiar with the portions and those with limited background, so the book is very highly recommended for all Jewish libraries.