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Helena Rubinstein and the Women’s Liberation Movement

Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Permalink

Earlier this week Michèle Fitoussi wrote about her fascination, her research materials, and her favorite episodes from Helena Rubinstein's life. Her biography on Helena, Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty, is now available. She has been blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

Helena Rubinstein's career took off at a time when, at least in terms of beauty and hygiene, emancipation was there for the taking, and women were choosing to emancipate themselves. Helena’s intuition, as well as lucky timing, and of course her extraordinary talent, certainly helped her succeed. She understood that beauty was seen as a ‘new power’, she managed to bring make-up out of the theatres and brothels for ‘honest’ women to appropriate. She taught women how to look after themselves, she democratized access to beauty products and anticipated the importance of science and hygiene in the industry.

For the emancipation of women was not merely the right to vote, work, and achieve financial independence - fashion and beauty also played a great role. Thanks to Poiret and Chanel, women were free of restraining corsets, allowing them the freedom to move, take part in sports, walk, drive, and ride horses just like men. Thanks to Helena Rubinstein, they learnt to apply makeup or improve their skin – she had no intention of creating mere dolls, but rather women capable of looking after themselves. In 1912 in New York, the suffragettes protesting for the right to vote all wore bright red lipstick; challenging the societal norms of the time by wearing ‘taboo’ make-up. When Helena Rubinstein arrived in the United States three years later, women were ready to follow her advice. Ironically, she rarely used any skin creams herself – but she had a beautiful complexion around which she built her brand.

So in a way, Helena played an important role in the women’s liberation movement, but perhaps unconsciously so, or in her own – non-political – way. I don’t believe this ruthless businesswoman and ingenious entrepreneur was much of a feminist.

Michèle Fitoussi was born in Tunisia to French parents, and has lived in Paris since the age of five. She worked as a journalist at Elle magazine for years, interviewing world leaders in areas as varied as politics, human sciences, sports, literature and the media. She is the author of screenplays, fiction and non-fiction, including the international bestsellers Superwoman’s had Enough and The Prisoner. She also co-wrote Stolen Lives with Malika Oufkir, which sold more than a million copies throughout the world and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for 25 weeks after being stamped as an “Oprah Book” by Oprah Winfrey. Her newest book, Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty, is now available. Her forthcoming book about the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai will be published in France this September.

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Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Permalink

Earlier this week, Stephanie Feldman wrote about her favorite Wandering Jews. Her debut novel, The Angel of Losses, will be published by Ecco on July 29th. She has been blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

On the first day of "The History of the Jews in Eastern Europe," my college professor explained the tension between our family stories—our oral history—and the recorded facts. His example: almost all families from the Pale of Settlement (the Jewish region of Imperial Russia) claim an ancestor who fled Europe to escape conscription in the Czar’s army. History, however, tells us that Jews were rarely, if ever, drafted.

I know very little about my own Eastern European forebears—a big reason why I was taking this class—but one of our only family legends describes my great-grandfather leaving Ukraine to avoid service in the Russian army. I immediately told my grandmother, his daughter, that his story is a common myth. I expected she would share my academic interest: Why would he pass off this story as truth? Why did so many men like him do the same?

Just as my professor warned, my grandmother only became angry. Her father didn’t lie. The historians must be wrong.

I was sorry to have upset her. I agreed it was possible my great-grandfather was one of the few threatened with conscription, or at least believed he was under threat. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but believe my professor, and I was disappointed. I felt like I had lost one of my few family stories from Europe.

But I had to stop thinking like a twenty-first-century American college student, and start thinking like the Jewish ancestors for whom I was searching. I began this journey when that same professor assigned the works of eminent historian Yosef Yerushalmi.

Yerushalmi argued that traditional Jewish history has little to do with facts and dates (or what the Czar's army said to my great-grandfather). Instead, it's an exercise in memory and performance that captures our experience. It's inextricably linked to the calendar; think of how Jews relive their entire history each year, one holiday and weekly Torah portion at a time. From the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century, European Jews interpreted current events using the framework of traditional stories. Regional Jewish perils and clashes with authority were understood as Purims, with chroniclers even renaming their enemies Haman; the Napoleonic Wars were interpreted using the Old-Testament terms Gog and Magog.

Storytelling-as-history is a powerful idea—one that I returned to while writing my novel, The Angel of Losses—but it's not an easy answer. As a Jewish person living after the Holocaust, I'm not persuaded that legend can entirely compensate for lost history. Sometimes, though, the legends are all that's left, and Jews are particularly ready to find meaning in them. I don’t know if my great-grandfather was nearly drafted into the Russian army, but his tale was, at the least, a kind of truth; a part of his history, and mine.

Stephanie Feldman lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Read more about her and her work here.

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Book Cover of the Week: Nest

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Chava Lansky

Nest by Esther Ehrlich tells the story of Naomi "Chirp" Orenstein, a young girl living on Cape Cod in the 1970s. When Chip's beloved mother falls ill she finds comfort in watching wild birds, observing their patterns to develop a "nest" of her own. The beautiful cover of this middle-grade novel is designed by extraordinary designer and illustrator Teagan White. Nest is due for release this September.

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Michèle Fitoussi's Favorite Episodes in Helena Rubinstein's Biography

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 | Permalink

When writing a biography, a biographer comes across a wealth of information about their subject. While one tries their best to be objective while they write, it's difficult not to have a preference for certain episodes of the subject's life. When Michèle Fitoussi poured over the details of Helena Rubinstein's life for her biography, Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty, there were a few moments in particular that struck a chord. Read about them below!

It’s difficult to choose only one – she led such an amazing life! The first that springs to mind, though, is the way in which she played the Lehman brothers – all-powerful businessmen at the time – who had purchased her company for an astronomical amount in 1928, selling it back to her for next to nothing in 1930. The crash had been and gone, and Helena Rubinstein had understood how to profit from it...

I also love her exile in Australia, sent away on a boat at the age of 24. Leaving Europe alone, without a chaperone, was extremely brave for any woman, let alone one so young.

And then there’s her purchase of the entire apartment block on Park Avenue in 1941, because the landlords refused to house a Jewish tenant.

And simply that way of rolling up her sleeves after the war, when she was more than 70 years old, in order to re-build her beauty salon and laboratory in France, both of which had been heavily bombed by the Germans. She was a millionaire, she could have delegated the work, instead she preferred to deal with it herself.

And, of course, her great intelligence and long-term vision, this woman lacked neither courage nor panache, which is why I liked her straightaway.

Michèle Fitoussi was born in Tunisia to French parents, and has lived in Paris since the age of five. She worked as a journalist at Elle magazine for years, interviewing world leaders in areas as varied as politics, human sciences, sports, literature and the media. She is the author of screenplays, fiction and non-fiction, including the international bestsellers Superwoman’s had Enough and The Prisoner. She also co-wrote Stolen Lives with Malika Oufkir, which sold more than a million copies throughout the world and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for 25 weeks after being stamped as an “Oprah Book” by Oprah Winfrey. Her newest book, Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty, is now available. Her forthcoming book about the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai will be published in France this September.

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My Favorite Wandering Jews

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 | Permalink

Stephanie Feldman is a graduate of Barnard College. Her debut novel, The Angel of Losses, will be published by Ecco on July 29th. She will be blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

I grew up assuming that the Wandering Jew was a Jewish creation, our metaphor for the Diaspora. When I began studying gothic literature in college, however, I learned that he's actually a Christian legend, a Roman who taunted Jesus and is punished with immortality.

But I loved the Wandering Jew—his mystery, his magic, his mix of danger and tragedy. I couldn't leave him behind to the more-or-less explicit anti-Semitism of 300-year-old British authors. I didn't want him to be, as my professors would say, "the Other."

I decided to write my own gothic novel with a Wandering Jew based on Jewish tradition. I studied Jewish folklore and history and found a wealth of wizards and travelers, some of whom appear in my novel, The Angel of Losses.

Here are a few of my favorite Wandering Jews:

1. Elijah

A body of Jewish folklore features the prophet Elijah, back on earth after his ascension to help pious Jews in need. He arrives as an unnamed stranger, and disappears again before anyone can guess his true identity.

2. Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph

The second-century rabbi is a famous mystic and religious scholar—"Head of all the Sages," according to the Talmud—but he was also a political figure. Akiba traveled through the Middle East encouraging Jewish communities to support the Jewish general Bar Kochba, who led a briefly successful revolt against the Romans. I prize him for his legendary journey to paradise. According to lore, Akiba brought three rabbis with him on this forbidden mission. Upon breaching paradise, one died, another went insane, and the third became an apostate. Akiba, somehow, survived unscathed.

3. Eldad Ha-Dani

In the ninth century, Eldad Ha-Dani traveled through North Africa, the Middle East, and Spain, announcing himself as a member of an independent Jewish kingdom in Africa founded by four of the ten Lost Tribes of Israel. His contemporaries accepted as truth his tales of an extraordinarily wealthy, hidden Jewish nation. Today, scholars consider him to be a fraud, but his mastery of an unusual version of Hebrew suggests that he may have indeed come from some kind of surviving isolated Jewish community in Africa.

4. Benjamin of Tudela

A twelfth-century Spanish Jew, Benjamin of Tudela traveled through Europe, North Africa, and Asia. His narrative, recognized as a precursor of Marco Polo’s, features both meticulous observations of Jewish communities and fantastic tales of Jewish magicians and enigmatic tribes.

5. and 6. Shlomo Molko and David Reubeni

Messianic fever gripped the Jewish population in the wake of the fifteenth-century Spanish expulsion. Molko, the son of conversos, rediscovered his Jewish heritage and traveled through Europe and the Middle East with self-proclaimed Messiah David Ruebeni. Molko and Reubeni’s journey speaks to the desperation and hope of their time, the sense that the reassembly of the diaspora—and the Ten Lost Tribes of legend—was imminent. Molko was burned at the stake in Italy, and his shawl is still on display in Prague.

7. Israel Cohen

Reading him when I did, I came to see Israel Cohen, who published several books about the Jewish communities of Europe, as an early twentieth-century successor to Benjamin of Tudela. I couldn’t shake one of his notes about the Vilna Jewish library, which one of my characters adds to his collection of legends of the Wandering Jew: “Beneath the Library there was a little room, on the door of which in bold letters appeared the sign of a Hebrew scribe. The door opened as I descended, and out came a hungry-looking man, with sunken, stubbly cheeks, and a dirty collar.”

8. The White Rebbe

A medieval Polish legend describes a "White Rebbe" who sends a calf into a cave. When the animal fails to return, the holy man determines he’s discovered a magical path to Jerusalem. The White Rebbe descends into the cave himself and is never seen again.

I borrowed the name “White Rebbe” for my own Wandering Jew, the hero—or anti-hero—of the mysterious fairy tales my protagonist Marjorie Burke discovers among her late grandfather’s belongings. My White Rebbe's story combines the magic, history, daring, and spiritual longing of the Jewish travelers I discovered in my research, and like the Wandering Jews of gothic literature, he refuses to remain safely in the past.

Stephanie Feldman lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and daughter. Read more about her and her work here.

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Sometimes History Throws Me A Bone

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 | Permalink
This week, Roberta Rich, the author of The Midwife of Venice and a new book, The Harem Midwife, blogs for The Postscript on the the amazing (true!) stories that one can find in history...and her inspiration for her latest book. 

The Postscript series is a special peek "behind the scenes" of a book. It's a juicy little extra something to add to a book club's discussion and a reader's understanding of how the book came together. 

To "host" Roberta at your next book club meeting, request her through JBC Live Chat

I am a truly inept plotter, not a good quality in a writer of historical fiction. But some times history smiles and throws me a bone. In the case of the Ottoman Empire, which I researched for my latest novel—many bones.

The Harem Midwife is set in Constantinople in the 16th century. My heroine, Hannah, is midwife to the harem of Murat III. History tells us that Murat suffered from a rare and dangerous disorder: although he was surrounded by the most gorgeous girls of the Ottoman Empire, he was besotted with his wife, Safiye, and could perform sexually only with her. It was widely assumed she had bewitched him.

It was a dangerous state of affairs. Murat’s only son and heir to the throne of the largest empire the world had ever known was sickly. In those days of high infant mortality, it was not enough to have one son, or even an ‘heir and a spare’ as the British say. Dozens of son were required to ensure the continuation of the sultanate.

The Valide Nurbanu, the Sultan’s mother, purchased a slave, a young Circassian girl. The Sultan had a glimpse of the girl, and she captured his fancy. She was the great Circassian hope for the Osman dynasty.

The ploy worked, unleashing the royal stud in Murad III who promptly sired 20 surplus sons—all of whom had to be strangled after his death and one, so abruptly, that the poor boy was not permitted to finish his bowl of cherries.

Thus, was born the opening chapter for my novel. I didn’t have to make up a thing.

Imperial Sofa Topkapi March 2008pano2The Topkapi Palace, home of the Sultan and his harem was a magical place of eunuchs, menageries of exotic animals, steams baths, remarkable beauty treatments, and lovely, bored young girls. Too much leisure time and too much money is always a recipe for lascivious, interesting behaviour.

I learned how eunuchs are made—a long and excruciating process. Apparently only one boy out of every nine survived the ordeal. Given what was involved, it is a wonder any survived. But in a society where men kept their wives, daughters and sisters secluded in a harem, eunuchs were vital as guards, confidants and occasionally lovers. As one eunuch famously said of his conquests:

‘They yearn for my ‘tree’ because it cannot bear fruit.”

History even provided me with special effects. The Ottomans were fond, some would say excessively fond, of theatrical contrivances. A hundred doves with orange pomanders around their necks were released from a golden cage to scent the air of the Valide’s private apartments. An army of slow-moving tortoises with candles affixed to their shells moved about the palace gardens on moonless nights.

At Prince Mehmet’s Circumcision Parade—53 days of rejoicing in the streets of Constantinople— the crowds were fed whole roasted oxen out of which raced, when they were cut open, live foxes and wolves, no doubt causing panic among the crowd.

And then there is the story of Gentile Bellini, the famous Venetian painter, and Mehmet the Conqueror who didn’t like the way Bellini portrayed the beheading of John the Baptist. To show him how it was done, Mehmet ordered a slave executed on the spot.

Could any novelist fabricate such wonderful details without being criticized for shameless exaggeration? Not I.

The Harem Midwife has become a favourite of book clubs, and I have appeared at many gatherings both literally munching Turkish mezzes and pide, and drinking wine and virtually on Skype or Face Time. Please see my JBC Live Chat profile to arrange an appearance. My website is:  www.robertarich.com.

On Trailing the Life of Helena Rubinstein

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 | Permalink

Earlier this week, Michèle Fitoussi wrote about her fascination with Helena Rubinstein and her decision to write the biography Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty. Today she discusses the sources she used to write the biography. She will be blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

Helena Rubinstein wrote – or rather commissioned – two autobiographies that merely serve to perpetuate her legend, and therefore cannot really be trusted... But they are enough to get a good idea of his extraordinary woman. There are also a couple of biographies written about her, as well as the memoir of Patrick O’Higgins, her secretary during the last 20 years of her life. His words are at times rather biting – it must be said she didn’t treat him especially well – but he remains affectionate, which make this account worthwhile.

In Paris, I had access to the numerous archives of the Rubinstein company; I was able to sift through 14 boxes of memories – Dora Maar’s photos of Helena’s apartment in Paris by the Quai de Béthune, newspaper clippings, press files, transcriptions of radio interviews, reports of the branding strategy in the 1950s, and hundreds of photos.

Once in New York, I had the opportunity to visit the Foundation before it closed its doors and auctioned off its collection of paintings. She had had her portraits done by Salvador Dali, Marie Laurencin, Jacques Helleu, Christian Bérard. Helena’s son’s daughter-in-law Suzanne Slesin also had a great collection of archives which she has compiled in a beautiful book entitled Helena Rubinstein: Over the Top. I met her on several occasions and she told me about her fascinating encounter with Madame Rubinstein in the '60s, when she was only 16 years old, and how dazzled she was upon her visit to Helena’s apartment on Park Avenue. It was at once baroque and a complete mess – a little ‘over the top’ at times – but her style was unbelievably audacious, as she combined for example "Negro art" with contemporary furniture in a way no one would ever dreamed of doing at the time.

I spoke with some of her rare family members who are still alive, including a young cousin who escaped the Shoah with her mother and whom Madame took in after the war and the son of her director in France, Emmanuel Ameisen, who was also her first husband’s nephew.

Trawling through the genealogy sites online I managed to find identity papers, passports, and many newspapers of the time, both American and Australian. Her career truly began in Australia, that’s where her first interviews were conducted, her first adverts placed. One of which I found was dated back to 1903, featuring an actress praising Helena’s ‘Valaze’ cream – the true precursor to ‘Because I’m worth it.’

I would have liked to learn more about her first husband Arthur Ameisen, who went under the alias of Edward Titus, an intellectual, journalist, and art lover, who set up the bookshop on Delambre street in Montparnasse and published Kiki’s Memoirs by Kiki de Montparnasse as well as the French translation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. He too was a fascinating character. He was a prominent member of the ‘Roaring Twenties’ crowd, and influenced his wife’s artistic taste to a great extent. But what was he up to before they met in Australia and then got married in London? I had the opportunity to meet his second wife in Cannes, Erica, who was 38 years his junior, but sadly she was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and I was unable to glean much information from her.

Michèle Fitoussi was born in Tunisia to French parents, and has lived in Paris since the age of five. She worked as a journalist at Elle magazine for years, interviewing world leaders in areas as varied as politics, human sciences, sports, literature and the media. She is the author of screenplays, fiction and non-fiction, including the international bestsellersSuperwoman’s had Enough and The Prisoner. She also co-wrote Stolen Liveswith Malika Oufkir, which sold more than a million copies throughout the world and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for 25 weeks after being stamped as an “Oprah Book” by Oprah Winfrey. Her newest book, Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty, is now available. Her forthcoming book about the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai will be published in France this September.

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On Writing a Biography of Helena Rubinstein

Monday, July 14, 2014 | Permalink

Michèle Fitoussi is the author of screenplays, fiction and non-fiction, including the international bestsellers Superwoman’s had Enough and The Prisoner. She also co-wrote Stolen Lives with Malika Oufkir, which sold more than a million copies throughout the world and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for 25 weeks after being stamped as an “Oprah Book” by Oprah Winfrey. Her newest book, Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty, is now available. She will be blogging here all week for Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

People always ask me the same question: ‘What made you want to write about Helena Rubinstein?’ And the answer is always the same. When I began to read her autobiography – in which she does nothing but lie – it made me want to know more, and I became passionate about the romantic yet modern story of this petite ( 4’8”) woman of Polish descent, always perched on sky-high heels, who passed away 48 years ago.

I immediately understood the potential of her story, and all there was to tell. Not least starting with her solo departure to Australia; her two-month boat journey, twelve pots of cream from her mother in her suitcase. It was 1896, she was 24 years old, spoke no English, had never met her Australian family – and she was heading into the unknown with a certain amount of bravery and determination which fascinated me. She was an adventurer, and I loved that about her.

I was, and remain, fascinated by her enthusiasm, her curiosity, her bravery and her youthfulness. She was afraid of nothing and had an endless amount of energy, passion, and intelligence. She was a real heroine and, as she used to say, all the things she’d experienced could easily have filled half a dozen lives. She remains a role model and an inspiration for women all over the world.

With her we travel across the twentieth century through the medium of beauty and art, we witness the empowerment of women, the birth of consumerism, marketing and publicity. We spend time in Krakow, Paris, New York, Melbourne and London... She has lived a thousand lives, and I thought it was worth shedding more light on them.

Michèle Fitoussi was born in Tunisia to French parents, and has lived in Paris since the age of five. She worked as a journalist at Elle magazine for years, interviewing world leaders in areas as varied as politics, human sciences, sports, literature and the media.

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New Jewish Book Council Reviews

Friday, July 11, 2014 | Permalink

This week's new Jewish Book Council reviews:

Find more of the latest reviews here.

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The Mothers' Kaddish

Friday, July 11, 2014 | Permalink

Posted by Nat Bernstein

We are all still reeling from the past weeks of terror and grief over the murders of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah, three Jewish young men whose bodies were found in a field in the West Bank after an eighteen-day search following their kidnapping, and Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a sixteen-year-old Palestinian who was burned alive in a horrifying civilian act of retaliation.

It is hard, and it hardly seems appropriate, to find inspiration in the face of such tragedy, especially as the violence, division, and hatred behind it continue to promulgate in its wake. There was no small victory for humankind in this story, no miracle—but there was progress.

“The funeral ceremonies also included a seminal moment from a religious perspective, a personal moment with far-reaching public significance,” Yair Ettinger pointed out hours after the burial of the three Jewish victims, in an essay entitled “When Rachel Fraenkel Recited the Kaddish, the Chief Rabbi Said ‘Amen’” for Haaretz. “The recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish by women is gaining momentum, particularly in Modern Orthodox communities. Although it has rabbinical approval, it has never had such great exposure as it had on Tuesday.”

Indeed, 2014-2015 JBC Network author Elana Maryles Sztokman lists cemeteries and funerals among the worst examples of public gender segregation in Israel in the opening chapter of her current book, The War on Women in Israel: How Religious Extremism is Smothering the Voice of a Nation. “One of the most painful experiences of women’s exclusion,” she writes, “takes place at the cemetery, where women are increasingly barred from their own mourning processes… For perhaps obvious reasons, women who were prevented from saying eulogies or honoring their deceased loved ones at funerals faced significant emotional struggles.”

Thankfully—and significantly—that added distress was not placed on Rachel Fraenkel, the bereft mother of Naftali, as she buried her sixteen-year-old son. She was not edged out of public view or ushered away from her son’s graveside; she stood together with her family and recited the Mourner’s Kaddish in front of Chief Rabbi David Lau, religious leaders and members of Knesset, and the thousands of Jews who assembled at the cemetery, and the only response she received was “Amen.”

“The religious feminist movement is not new,” Ettinger asserts in his article. “It has been taking shape for many years with the full cooperation of high-ranking Orthodox rabbis, but it is not every day that it gets the kind of exposure engendered by a woman’s public recitation of Kaddish.”

Several months ago, 2014-2015 JBC Network authors Michal Smart and Barbara Ashkenas received a 2013 National Jewish Book Award for their co-edited anthology, Kaddish: Women’s Voices, in which over fifty writers from around the world—including Nessa Rapaport and fellow 2014-2015 JBC Network author and 2013 National Jewish Book Award recipient Chaya R. Gorsetman, who coauthored Educating in the Divine Image: Gender Issues in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools with Sztokman—share their experiences mourning as Jewish women. “I hope this book will serve as a companion to others,” Ashkenas writes in the preface, “spark many meaningful conversations, and open the possibilities for women to choose how to mourn and remember a loved one.”

Since Naftali Fraenkel , Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah’s disappearance, the entire Jewish world has been watching—watching for developments in the case, watching the bereaved families, watching for the responses of Jewish, Arab, and world leaders, watching the citizens of Israel and the Palestinian territories. This process of waiting and, eighteen days later, confirmed grief, and later still shock and horror at the discovery of Muhammad Abu Khdeir's brutalized body—for we are all, regardless of our politics or opinions, saddened by the senseless deaths of these youths—has elicited discussion within the Jewish community, albeit a painful one. We don’t know what to talk about, and so we resort to either sitting in an unhealthy silence or reacting in ways that harm others, harm our standing as a nation in the global community, and harm our own friends and dear ones.

Yair Ettinger’s piece points us to one way in which we might create a constructive conversation, both in the immediate aftermath of this terrible event and for the months and years to follow, for our communities: a discussion of healing, of Jewish practice, of women and religion, of a way forward.