Rashi's Daughters, Book I
Joheved: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France (Rashi's Daughters Series)
In 1068, the scholar Salomon ben Isaac returns home to Troyes, France, to take over the family winemaking business and embark on a path that will indelibly influence the Jewish world, writing the first Talmud commentary, and secretly teaching Talmud to his daughters.
Joheved, the eldest of his three girls, finds her mind and spirit awakened by religious study, but, knowing the risk, she must keep her passion for learning and prayer hidden. When she becomes betrothed to Meir ben Samuel, she is forced to choose between marital happiness and being true to her love of the Talmud.
Rich in period detail and drama, Joheved is a must read for fans of Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring.
Praise For Rashi's Daughters, Book I: Joheved: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France (Rashi's Daughters Series)…
“A compelling combination of drama, suspense, and romance.”—Lilith magazine
Plume, 9780452288621, 384pp.
Publication Date: July 31, 2007
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
What tone does the opening scene set? What does it tell you about Joheved’s character?
Describe how the bond between Joheved and Salomon develops and changes with time? Discuss the pros and cons of Jewish childhood in medieval France.
Rashi’s Daughters is filled with carefully researched historical anecdotes that the author uses as inspiration for her own imagined scenes. Discuss this interplay of fact and fiction.
Rivka is upset with her daughters learning Talmud. Are her objections reasonable? Why would men not want women in a position of knowledge? What is threatening about educated women? Discuss the role of women in medieval society versus their role today.
Joheved and Meir have an arranged marriage, as do Salomon and Rivka. Compare Joheved and Meir’s relationship to Salomon and Rivka’s? To Miriam and Benjamin’s? Discuss the pros and cons of arranged marriage versus marrying for love. Why would Sarah prefer widowhood to remarriage?
Salomon’s decision to write down his kuntres is a controversial innovation. Discuss how a society is changed in a shift from oral to written tradition.
Relations between French Jews and Christians were fairly tolerant during this time. Was this lack of overt anti-Semitism surprising? What other myths about medieval times did Rashi’s Daughters debunk?
Which characters resonated the most powerfully for you? Were there others you would have liked to have known more about? Why?
What do you see in the future for Rachel? Are there any clues that indicate what might happen?
Religion was a powerful force for both Jews and Christians in medieval times. Is religion as powerful now? How does your religion, or lack of one, influence your life?