If We Could Hear Them Now: Encoun­ters With Leg­endary Jew­ish Heroines

Alice Beck­er Lehrer
  • Review
By – September 8, 2011

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.

Abra­ham J. Edel­heit is an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at Kings­bor­ough Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege (CUNY) and the author, co-author, or edi­tor of eleven books on the Holo­caust, Zion­ism, Jew­ish and Euro­pean his­to­ry, and Mil­i­tary affairs. His most recent pub­li­ca­tion appeared in Armor mag­a­zine, the offi­cial jour­nal of the US Army Armor and Cav­al­ry Command.

Discussion Questions