This is the first book in the trilogy Rashi’s Daughters, by Maggie Anton. The second book is Miriam, and the third, Rachel, is yet to be published. Rashi was an 11th Century French Talmud scholar. He wrote the first Talmud commentary, and is still studied and quoted today. Having no sons, he taught Talmud to his daughters. This was then, and in some circles now, considered a revolutionary idea.
Joheved was the eldest of three daughters of Rashi (an acronym for his real name, Rabbi Salomon ben Isaac) and his wife Rivka. They lived in Troyes, France. With the help of the Jewish community of Troyes, Rashi established a yeshiva in Troyes. Students, all boys, came from towns near and far to study with Rashi. Meir ben Samuel is the son of a local, wealthy landowner. He is a student at the same yeshiva in Mayence at which Rashi had studied. He and Joheved become betrothed, and Meir comes to study at Rashi’s yeshiva.
The place and the time where these events happen are thoroughly researched. It is interesting to read about Jewish life in medieval France. However, the story itself lacks any real interest for me. There is no real conflict or surprise here. The characters are dull and lack dimension.
I had higher hopes for Joheved. And I’m still looking for a great book to read!
Softcover edition-Banot Press 2005