cover image Moonbeams: A Hadassah Rosh Hodesh Guide

Moonbeams: A Hadassah Rosh Hodesh Guide

Leora Tanenbaum. Jewish Lights Publishing, $20 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-58023-099-5

Rosh Hodesh, the celebration of the new moon, has been reinvigorated as a women's holiday in Judaism. For contemporary women who gather together for monthly prayer and spirituality, Diament's practical guide offers a specific nine-month course of study. The topics for each month--many tying in to the holidays that fall during that month--cover an engrossing range of subjects: Jewish prayer garments, modesty, Jewish self-hatred, medical ethics, feminism, women and Israeli law, women rabbis and ba'alot teshuvah (women who ""return"" to Orthodox Judaism). Diament, national education director of Hadassah, the international women's Zionist organization, acknowledges that some of these issues carry more urgency among Orthodox women than among the book's intended non-Orthodox audience, but, she asserts, ""many Jews view Orthodoxy as a world apart,"" and ""it is important... to gain access to that world and better understand it."" That, she concludes, will help readers acquire insight into their own Jewish practice and thought. Each section begins with a personal essay, followed by a multidimensional selection of texts from classic to contemporary, then questions and activities. Although this handbook is geared to groups that affiliate with Hadassah, it can provide direction for women's study groups of all kinds. (Sept.)