Yael Unterman’s thorough, wide-ranging, and engaging biography of the legendary Bible educator Nehama Leibowitz (1905 – 97) is a welcome addition to the volumes delineating Nehama’s life and work. The author devoted ten years to this project, and although she had very limited contact with her subject, a complete and nuanced portrait emerges based on extensive research and interviews with Nehama’s pupils, friends, and family members. In addition to fascinating photographs and intimate details of Nehama’s personal life, the book includes in-depth chapters devoted to her religious and educational philosophy, methodology, and contributions to the field of Biblical scholarship. Unterman presents not only the glowing views and recollections of Nehama’s legion of devotees, but also the opinions of her critics, enabling the reader to develop a more balanced appreciation of this iconic individual’s achievements. The author concludes the book by speculating about the extent to which Nehama will remain a notable influence on students of Bible in years to come. This volume deserves wide readership not only among professionals in the field but also among those readers interested in learning more about one of the most influential Jewish women and teachers of Torah of the 20th century.
Yaakov (Jack) Bieler was the founding Rabbi of the Kemp Mill Synagogue in Silver Spring, MD until his retirement in 2015. He has been associated with Jewish day school education for over thirty years. R. Bieler served as a mentor for the Bar Ilan University Lookstein Center Principals’ Seminar and he has published and lectured extensively on the philosophy of Modern Orthodox education.