Sharon Elswit, author of The Jewish Story Finder, now resides in San Francisco, where she has been helping students visiting 826 Valencia locations around the city to write stories and poems and getting adults up and retelling Jewish folktales to share with their own spin.
Sarah Laughed: Sonnets From Genesis
In fine Midrashic tradition, Judith Goldhaber writes seventy-three sonnets that play with a very human — and often ironic— take by Biblical characters on the tremendous events in Genesis that they are a part of. Most focus is given to Eve, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph. Of these, the strongest poems are written in the first person. Eve wonders about the other woman in Adam’s life; Abraham mourns Sarah’s death with Isaac by his side. The least probing concern Noah, sticking with surface concern for animals on the ark; he doesn’t ponder or regret. Conversational language feels comfortable on the tongue, and most lines scan with unforced rhythm and rhyme. Many poems rise majestically to meet the drama of the moment. The snake tempts Eve with the forbidden fruit of her burning curiosity: “Ah! Lilith would have tasted it,” he hissed,/ “and later she and Adam would have kissed,/ her mouth delectable with fragrant spice,/ his soft tongue lapping up the juice that drips/over her chin and breasts, so he could share/her boldness and her sin. Yes, he would dare/”. Colorful watercolors echo the sensuality, whimsy, and intensity of different scenes; one painting faces each poem. Nudity in a few of the illustrations will most likely keep this book on the adult shelves, but creative thinking that the sonnets inspire will also appeal to teens.
Jewish literature inspires, enriches, and educates the community.
Help support the Jewish Book Council.