Monday, December 17, 2007

Presentation on Wednesday March 5th, 2008 at GTS on The Torah: A Women's Commentary

Profs Andrea Weiss and Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, editors of The Torah: A Women's Commentary, will present their work on Wednesday March 5th 2008 at 1.30-3.20pm at The General Theological Seminary (on 9th Avenue between 20 &21st Street in NYC) in Seabury Auditorium. GTS' Prof Robert Owens will also make a presentation. A representative of the URJ press (the publishers) will be there to sell copies of the commentary at the event. This will be one of the first discussions of the book in New York City.

Here is a website about the book:

Publisher's Weekly on 11/28 says:
The Torah: A Women's Commentary (URJ Press) will be unveiled during the Women of Reform Judaism's 46th Assembly to be held Dec. 12-16 in San Diego. The Commentary is the result of years of planning and fundraising by the Reform women's group, and the collaboration of more than 200 writers contributing differing voices and views to the landmark work.

With emphasis on the roles of women in the Torah, the Commentary contains five interpretive "layers" that allow readers to see a variety of perspectives on the text, including traditional rabbinic, contemporary, scholarly and poetic views. The work of 100 commissioned contributors is included, as well as more than 100 poets.

"It was a lot of editing, but it was a dialogue," said editor Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, professor of Bible at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. The writers came from all movements of Judaism, and they include both senior and younger scholars.

The seed of the Commentary began germinating in 1993, at an earlier assembly, when the women's group was challenged to imagine a work that would legitimate women's study of the Torah. The Reform women's group subsequently commissioned such a work to be done by women scholars, rabbis, historians, philosophers and archaeologists. They backed their request with fundraising, collecting more than $1.5 million. "So many people gave what was a meaningful gift to them, and it really added up," said Rosanne Selfon, who spearheaded the fundraising and is president of the women's group. "I felt almost like this was a sacred obligation."

Eskenazi emphasized the collaborative nature of the project, beginning with grass roots support and on through the multiple voices and perspectives within the Commentary. "It's the community saying, 'We want our Torah and we want to see it through eyes that speak to our concerns,'" she said.

The book is expected to attract attention well beyond its immediate audience. Zachary Kolstein, director of sales and marketing at URJ Books and Music, said 10,000 copies were pre-sold and interest was strong at the recently concluded joint annual conference of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. Selfon said an excerpt of the work was made available last year at no charge to interested readers. "We got 15,000 requests for the material," she said. "It was so brilliant to do that, marketing-wise."

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