A Wid­ow’s Tale

Dina Bar-Tov
  • Review
By – December 16, 2011
Few reb­bet­zins write mem­oirs, pos­si­bly because they are very busy peo­ple. Dina Bar-Tov, the wid­ow of a rab­bi from Mon­sey, New York, has tak­en the time to write about her efforts to cre­ate a new life for her­self after her husband’s sud­den death. Through her eyes we learn about the numb­ness asso­ci­at­ed with the ini­tial shock of the loss, the chi­canery engaged in by some fam­i­ly mem­bers and con­gre­gants to whom she turns for help to attain finan­cial secu­ri­ty, and her strug­gle to achieve per­son­al and finan­cial equi­lib­ri­um. What is very spe­cial about Dina’s tale is that she is the moth­er of nine chil­dren, is a fer­vent­ly reli­gious reb­bet­zin, and is com­mit­ted to meet­ing her next bersh­ert, i.e. her prov­i­den­tial­ly decreed spouse. These aspects of her life make A Widow’s Tale unique. Nev­er­the­less, the process of griev­ing she describes will res­onate with wid­ows and wid­ow­ers. One dis­con­cert­ing aspect of the tale” is that the read­er is nev­er informed as to who and what is fic­tion­al­ized to pro­tect the con­fi­den­tial­i­ty of those men­tioned in the book.
Car­ol Poll, Ph.D., is the retired Chair of the Social Sci­ences Depart­ment and Pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at the Fash­ion Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy of the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York. Her areas of inter­est include the soci­ol­o­gy of race and eth­nic rela­tions, the soci­ol­o­gy of mar­riage, fam­i­ly and gen­der roles and the soci­ol­o­gy of Jews.

Discussion Questions