Jewish Book Council honors Frymer-KenskyBy Seth Sanders
The Jewish Book Council bestowed its Barbara Dobkin Award in Women’s Studies to Tikva Frymer-Kensky for her book, Reading the Women of the Bible: A New Interpretation of Their Stories.
The book has received the award for its insightful argument that, precisely because they provide a way of seeing subordination, the women of the Bible also provide a uniquely vivid way of understanding how ancient Israel saw itself.
Frymer-Kensky, Professor of the Hebrew Bible and the History of Judaism in the Divinity School, claimed that although ancient Israeli society was a patriarchy, the Hebrew Bible does not portray women as inferior or justify their subordination.
Through creative readings of the stories of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Dinah, Tamar, Deborah, Ruth, Jezebel and other biblical heroines, the women of the Bible emerge as victors, victims, virgins or voices of God, each a facet of ancient Israel’s sense of itself.
The book also received a Koret Jewish Book Award last year.
Richard Rosengarten, Dean of the Divinity School, remarked that the book’s uniqueness is “in its level and intensity of engagement with its texts; in its insistent focus on questions of the social, the individual and their relation; in its spirit of wonder, fascination, and deep and wide learning—in all these ways it is unmistakably the product of the mind and the keyboard of our very dear colleague.”
The award was presented to Frymer-Kensky at a ceremony at the Center for Jewish History in New York.
Given by the Jewish Book Council, the National Jewish Book Awards honor excellent Jewish writing in many categories, including Book of the Year, Fiction, Women’s Studies and Children’s Literature.