Nehama Lei­bowitz: Teacher and Bible Scholar

Yael Unter­man
  • Review
By – December 22, 2011
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.

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