One Hundred Philistine Foreskins

Tova Reich, Author
Tova Reich. Counterpoint, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-1-61902-107-5
Ebook - 385 pages - 978-1-61902-204-1
Paperback - 363 pages - 978-1-61902-280-5
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Reich’s satirical and incendiary fourth novel (after My Holocaust) takes aim with righteous rage at ultraorthodox Judaism’s subordination of women. Rather than rejecting rabbinical tradition wholesale, Reich’s novel seeks to rectify it by depicting a woman, Tema Bavli, as a miracle-working feminist rebbe who holds court over a countercommunity of religious refugees in Jerusalem. Tema spends her early years as a misunderstood prodigy in the cloistered Boro Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., where her Talmudic studies take place through the cracks in the wall of a disused toilet adjacent to the study hall. Sexually abused by both her teacher and her father, and haunted by her mother’s suicide, Tema flees Brooklyn for the Holy Land through a marriage of convenience to religious Zionist Howie Stern. In Israel, Tema separates from her husband, has children with elderly luminary Toiter Rav and Black Jewish leader Abba Kadosh, and ultimately gains renown. A postmodern stew of pious rebellion, the novel is rife with allusions and nods to Judaism’s rich literature; accordingly, much will be lost on the uninitiated. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff & Associates. (Mar.)
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