Cover image for Jephte's daughter
Jephte's daughter
Ragen, Naomi.
Personal Author:
1st St. Martin's Griffin ed.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 2010.
Physical Description:
x, 443 pages ; 22 cm
After agreeing to an arranged marriage to a man in Israel, Batsheva Ha-Levi discovers this change in her life will force her into a personal struggle to reconcile the demands of her faith with the need to live in the modern world.
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The pampered daughter of a wealthy Hasidic businessman, Batsheva Ha-Levi grows up in the affluent suburbs of Los Angeles. But everything changes when she turns eighteen and finds that her loving father has made a secret vow which will shatter her life, forcing her to marry a man she hardly knows and sending her to the exotic, golden city of Jerusalem. On her wedding day, she enters a strange and foreign world steeped in tradition and surrounded by myth. Shackled by ancient rules, she soon understands that to survive she will have no choice but to fight for her freedom, to reconcile her own need to live in the modern world with her ancestral obligations, and to choose between the three men who vie for her body, her soul, and her love.

Now a classic listed among the one hundred most important Jewish books of all time*, Jephte's Daughter is bestselling author Naomi Ragen's beloved first novel. With poignancy and insight, it takes readers on a groundbreaking and unforgettable journey inside the hidden world of women in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

* 100 Essential Books For Jewish Readers , Rabbi Daniel B. Sync and Lindy Frenkel Kanter

Author Notes

Naomi Ragen is the author of novels including The Tenth Song , The Sacrifice of Tamar , Sotah , The Covenant , and The Saturday Wife . Her books are international bestsellers, and her weekly email columns on life in the Middle East are read by thousands of subscribers worldwide. Ragen attended Brooklyn College and earned her master's in English from Hebrew University. An American, she has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. She was recently voted one of the three most popular authors in Israel.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Abraham Ha-Levi, a wealthy Los Angeles businessman, is the sole heir to a 300-year-old Hasidic dynasty. Believing himself unworthy to take on the mantle of leadership, he makes a solemn vow to God to continue the distinguished lineage through his only child, Batsheva. When he marries her off at 18 to a young Talmudic scholar, Isaac Harshen, they live in the ultra-fanatic religious quarters of Meah Shearim in Jerusalem. Beautiful and intelligent, Batsheva struggles valiantly to be a true daughter of Israel, obedient to her husband and the laws of Hasidic life. But her inquisitive nature and desire for secular knowledge (her favorite books are Anna Karenina and Women in Love ) challenge Isaac's narrow view of her role as wife and mother. When his abusiveness threatens their young son's well-being, she makes a dramatic escape, winding up in London, where she falls in love with a man studying for the priesthood. Batsheva's Jewish faith survives her spiritual and intellectual quests, and she returns to Jerusalem to confront Isaac, demanding freedom for herself and her child. Ragen's impeccable knowledge of Jewish law and lore allows us a deep understanding of orthodox Jewish life from a woman's point of view. Despite eloquent writing and vivid characters, however, her first novel falters under convenient plot machinations that compromise the full development of its religious and emotional themes. 100,000 first printing. (Jan . ) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The world of Orthodox Judaism is lovingly portrayed in this first novel describing the conflicts of Batsheva Ha-Levi. Trapped in an arranged marriage to Isaac, a cruel, hypocritical zealot, Batsheva flees the Hasidic community of Jerusalem for the sophisticated world of London. Yet despite the myriad temptations in her new life, she refuses to compromise her faith, even for a new love. Ragen presents the cloistered Hasidic community in all its contradictory aspects: the rigidity of its piety; the serenity of its religiosity; the fanaticism of some adherents; and the wisdom of its great leaders. With its exotic ambience and attractive heroine, this is sure to be popular. Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.