IF WE COULD HEAR THEM NOW: Encounters with Legendary Jewish Heroines
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by Alice Becker Lehrer
Hardcover, 175 pages
ISBN 13: 978-965-031-3
In If We Could Hear Them Now, Jewish heroines come to life from
different eras of Jewish history. The author conducts interviews with
different greats of the past, allowing each woman to tell her story
from a personal point of view. History is brought down from the
shelves of libraries and study halls and put in the readers’ hands.
Written in a contemporary and riveting fashion, this book illustrates
what sets a hero apart and what lessons we can learn and incorporate
from these remarkable lives.
About the author:
Alice Becker Lehrer teaches at the David Weissman Institute of
the Bronfman Jewish Education Centre in Montreal and has held
senior positions in the Montreal Jewish community for many years,
including: serving as the President of the Jewish Public Library and
founder of its Legacy for Learning committee, chairing the
Advisory Committee of the Melton School of Education, cochairing
the Hartman Institute Lay Leadership Global Beit Midrash
Seminar Series, and as board member of Kollel Torah Mitzion and
Mizrachi Canada. Alice was the founder and president of the private
health care company Orthosport, was the editor of The Canadian
Journal of Occupational Therapy, and has published in the Canadian
Jewish News. She is the wife of Harold Lehrer, the mother of two
daughters and the proud Oma of two grandsons.
Praise for If We Could Hear Them Now:
"This creative book allows modern readers to engage with Jewish
heroines whose voices we cannot access. The imaginary conversations
conducted with these women from our past are grounded in classic
Jewish sources and provide a thought-provoking opportunity to reflect
on how ancient stories are relevant to our lives today."
–Elisheva Baumgarten, Director of the Fanya Gottesman Heller Center for the Study of Jewish Women and Social Historian at the Department of Jewish History Program at Bar Ilan University
"In this wonderfully engaging book, Alice Lehrer has brought many
of the great heroines of the Jewish spirit to life by allowing them to
tell their story in their own voice as if they were contemporaries.
This is a delightful, imaginative and inspirational work which I highly
–Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth
"In this delightful and compelling work, Alice Lehrer takes us on a
magic carpet ride through Jewish history, introducing us to impressive
heroines and imagining how their stories could inspire us today. The
book is both erudite and entertaining. So hear them now, meet them
now, read them now. Buckle your seatbelts and enjoy this literaryhistorical
adventure in time-travel reminding us, in the author’s apt
words, of the “timelessness” of these Jewish heroines’ teachings."
–Professor Gil Troy, McGill University, author of Why I Am A Zionist: Israel, Jewish Identity and the Challenges of Today
In If We Could Hear Them Now Alice Becker Lehrer offers a refreshing new way of exploring the lives of female Jewish biblical and secular heroines, using the art of conversation in an interview format. The author draws upon the classic texts of midrash and biblical commentary to provide the foundation and then, in true midrashic fashion, fills in the blanks with the imaginary voices of the women.
We hear from well-known women such as Tamar and Tziporah and some lesser known characters such as Rachel the wife of Akiva. Each interview is preceded by a short introduction that provides historical and biblical background on the character to help the reader follow the interview.
During the interview, the author, in traditional midrash fashion, fills in the gaps by asking questions and letting the character come through in a contemporary voice. Some examples are quite compelling, such as asking Tzipora what it was like to be married to Moses. In the section on Ruth, Ruth and Naomi interview each other, which provides an interesting conversation.
This book is a welcome change from the recent spate of midrashic novels. It provides us with a new commentary on Jewish heroines from biblical to modern times.
-Jewish Book World
Many recent novels have focused on
the lives of women of the Jewish past,
including female biblical figures. In this
volume, Alice Becker Lehrer, who teaches at the David
Weissman Institute of Montreal’s Bronfman Jewish Education Center,
“conducts interviews” with a range of women from Tanakh and Jewish
history. The author’s focus is to show how the stories can serve to inspire
us today. Her fictionalized interviews allow each woman to, as it were, “relate
her own story from an individual standpoint.” The “subjects” span biblical
figures including Tamar and Tzipporah, women from the rabbinic period such
as Rachel, wife to Rabbi Akiva, and women from later centuries such
as Rashi’s daughters and Henrietta Szold. Each imaginary interview is
preceded by a short introduction that puts the interviewee in textual and
historical context. The biblical interviews skillfully draw upon traditional
commentaries and midrashic texts to bring the chosen subjects to life.