Cover image for The sacrifice of Tamar
The sacrifice of Tamar
Ragen, Naomi.
Personal Author:
1st St. Martin's Griffin ed.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 2010.
Physical Description:
458 pages ; 21 cm
Hiding the truth about a rape in order to avoid painful stigmas, Tamar, the young bride of a rising rabbi in an orthodox Jewish community, is forced to confront her experience years later in the face of a shocking turn of events.
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Tamar Finegold is twenty-one years old, the happy, beautiful bride of a rising young Rabbi in one of Brooklyn's insulated, ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. Having married the man of her dreams and taken her place as a wife--and hopefully soon-to-be mother--in her community, Tamar feels as though the world is at her feet. But her secure, predictable existence is brought to an abrupt end when she is raped by an intruder. Fearing the unbearable stigma and threat to her marriage that couldresult from telling the truth, Tamar makes a fateful decision that changes her life forever. Her feeling that she did the only thing she could under the circumstances explodes when years later a shocking, undreamed of turn of events finally forces her to confront her past, once and for all

Author Notes

Naomi Ragen is the author of novels including The Tenth Song , 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 3

Booklist Review

The rape of a young, ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman and her ultimate redemption are at the very heart of Ragen's latest novel. The detailed portrait of life within devoutly religious communities begins in New York and, as the tale unfolds, moves to Israel. While growing up in Brooklyn, Tamar and her two closest friends must deal with petty jealousies, gossip, and the rigid demands of an ancient orthodoxy. Adolescence introduces choices that profoundly affect their adult lives, and as women, each will pursue a considerably different path from that of the others. Tamar is allowed her imperfections, and these less-than sterling qualities make Ragen's protagonist all the more likable. The author handles this complex and moving story with a deft touch as Tamar's outwardly perfect life must finally be reconciled with her long-kept secret. ~--Alice Joyce

Publisher's Weekly Review

Returning to familiar terrain in her third novel (after Jephte's Daughter and Sotah), Ragen again examines the lives of ultra-orthodox Jews and the severe consequences that can befall even the most faithful when they take a serious, albeit human misstep. Most of the story takes place in a Brooklyn neighborhood resembling Borough Park, although, as in her previous books, dramatic fanfare occurs in Israel, too. Pious Tamar both adores and is in awe of her warm and brilliant husband, Josh. She is looking forward to an intimate evening after her ritual visit to the mikvah (here Ragen offers a tediously detailed description about Jewish conjugal laws), but that evening she is raped by a black man. She does not tell her husband about the attack, and when she discovers she is pregnant, she does not abort the fetus, because she is not sure whether the rapist or Josh is the father. In trying to make the reader understand why Tamar would choose silence and sustain the pregnancy, Ragen flashes back to Tamar's youth, particularly her relationship with two friends who play pivotal roles throughout her life: Hadassah, the beautiful, rebellious daughter of the neighborhood's primary religious leader, and Jenny, who comes from a secular background but easily adapts to Orthodox observance. The interplay between the girls as they take tentative steps into the secular world of the late 1960s provides some charming scenes, and the final chapters prove moving and dramatic when later consequences of Tamar's deceptive silence shatter her family's life. While Ragen is an able storyteller and handles dialogue deftly, her plots are becoming hackneyed. It's an insular and provincial world that she has chosen to portray, and here she adds little that is new or eye-opening to the reader. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

As in her previous novels (e.g., Jepthe's Daughter, LJ 12/88), Ragen shows how the modern world can intrude upon the airtight community of orthodox Jews. In 1970s Brooklyn, a young Jewish wife is raped by a black man. Later, she gives birth to a child-apparently white. Or is he? The truth comes out years later after her son's wife gives birth. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.