A woman at CBS recommended the series to me, so I tracked it down at my handy, dandy library. I read each of them in less than three days because they were that addicting. I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters in the shower, on BART, while eating dinner. I became so attached to them—even the youngest one, who annoyed me to no end. It was interesting seeing all three come “into” themselves via social and economic roles bequeathed to them via their marriages to men of certain professions.
The main family had been in the wine-making business for generations. I have a lot more respect for every borei pri hagafen I say now. Wine making seems so easy in this era—I’d never considered how the technological advancements, let alone the more obvious agricultural ones, removed a lot of the craft from the task. How does one prune the vine? What temperatures should the wine cellar fall between, and how do they maintain them with windows only?! When I think of Judaism’s ancient love affair with wine, I begin to question how all could afford kosher wine for all the simchas of life.
While I will never agree to follow the laws of niddah 100% as outlined in the Rabbinic tradition, my stance softened after reading through three women’s life experiences with the rules. The human aspect became a little more acceptable, while the actual practices (separate sheets and beds and no passing items) became more irritating the longer I read them. So I can go without certain intimacies for two to three weeks. How can I ever relinquish the need for a hug on a bad day though? I can’t. I simply can’t. That’s an emotional need, not a physical one.
This isn’t to say I give this series two thumbs up though. Hardly. I don’t know a single man for whom the book would resonate. They may be out there, but they’re likely to be the kind who raved about say, The Mists of Avalon. Second, while I fully admit my lack of knowledge in the area, I feel like the author clouded her portrayal of the Jewish characters with our modern understanding of feminism, at the expense of the Christian society included in the background of the plot. I find it hard to believe that women, Jews or not, were treated as well as the women of this book. Maybe I’ve bought into feminist lies however.
But the most aggravating thing was the CONSTANT explanation of EVERY Jewish phrase, custom, and holiday in the book. I understand that this book has to appeal to more than just the American Jewish population or the author would never make a profit. However, there is this thing called a glossary. Or even an appendix where the author lists additional resources. By the end of the second book, the author’s descriptions of every.little.Jewish.thing was so disruptive. Entire PASSAGES were lifted from previous books when the same topic came up again! Use italics, explain in the glossary, and move on. Why is it entirely our burden to have to explain ourselves? It’s strikingly similar to the “Tone” argument surrounding racism—the burden should fall on the ignorant to educate themselves. And I mean ignorant in the true meaning of the word, not today’s epithet.