Yowza – also, a review and synopsis

Sorry about the hiatus folks – I’ve been kind of busy this weekend!

At any rate, I finally received, last week, the new-ish The Torah: A Women’s Commentary and the less-new Etz Hayim, the official Torah and commentary for the Conservative Movement.

The Torah: A Women’s Commentary is a history-making book; there have been female-centered Bibles before, and female Bible commenters are nothing new – Etz Hayim, for instance, was the first Torah commentary to include the opinions of ordained female rabbis. This, however, is remarkable for being the first of its kind for Jews – the chumash contains opinions and commentaries from women of nearly all the major denominations in North America – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist. The commentaries are actually very good, with many of the commentators being either rabbis (in the non-Orthodox synagogues) or professors at a variety of schools. I haven’t given it a detailed enough reading to highlight anything specific, but I recommend it.

The other chumash, Etz Hayim, is notably taken from the JPS Torah and Commentary, but the benefit here is that it’s much cheaper, and has a fantastic section of essays at the end on a broad range of Jewish topics regarding history and traditional Torah interpretation, similarity to Mesopotamian myth, etc. from the current leading lights of the Conservative movement. What I like about it is that it strikes a good balance between historical criticism and tradition, much like Conservative movement in general. The essays are probably the key reason to get the chumash, even if one does not necessarily agree with the conclusions.

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