Bread and Fire: Jew­ish Women Find God in the Everyday

Rivkah Slonim, ed.; Liz Rosen­berg, con­sult­ing ed.
  • Review
By – March 9, 2012

Bread and Fire is an anthol­o­gy of sto­ries by Jew­ish women of var­i­ous back­grounds, fam­i­ly his­to­ries, and reli­gious upbring­ing. But their sto­ries all have one thing in com­mon — a search for the sacred with­in a sec­u­lar world. Each sto­ry touch­es on a life cycle event, rit­u­al, or tran­si­tion in the woman’s life that is trans­formed into a sacred moment.

A woman tells of bak­ing chal­lah and while it may be con­sid­ered a spe­cif­ic Shab­bat role for the women, it can be a moment of con­nec­tion to God that goes beyond the task of mak­ing bread. Some of the sto­ries tell of pain such as los­ing a par­ent or obtain­ing a get. The recita­tion of kad­dish or gain­ing a deep­er under­stand­ing of a rit­u­al can be a turn­ing point in one’s life. It becomes a moment of holi­ness that con­nects the per­son to her com­mu­ni­ty and ulti­mate­ly to God.

It is a fem­i­nist inter­pre­ta­tion, not because it urges women to ignore tra­di­tion­al rit­u­al, but rather, to inter­pret rit­u­al in a new way that gives women unique spir­i­tu­al con­nec­tions rather than the ful­fill­ment of a tra­di­tion­al role.

Bar­bara Andrews holds a Mas­ters in Jew­ish Stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, has been an adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion instruc­tor, and works in the cor­po­rate world as a pro­fes­sion­al adult educator.

Discussion Questions