The Torah: A Women’s Commentary

Torah Commentary, Edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea Weiss

Published December 2007

An example of a one-time fundraising effort was The Torah: A Women’s Commentary. Sisterhoods and individuals contributed enough funds over 14 years to make the dream of publishing a women’s Torah commentary come true. Challenged by Cantor Sarah Sager sisterhood women at the WRJ Assembly in San Francisco in 1993 and the women of WRJ accepted the challenge. All of the costs of the first printing were raised prior to the publication that was released at the 46th WRJ Assembly in San Diego.

“The five daughters of Zelophehad in the Book of Numbers approach Moses, the leaders of the people, and the entire community. They draw near because they see a problem that needs a solution: they have not been given an inheritance that they believe is due to them. They refuse to be left out and demand their rightful share. And so they dare speak to Moses, the priest Eleazar, all the other leaders, and the entire edah (congregation or formally constituted assembly). They say: ‘Give us a holding among our father’s kin. Give us a share of our heritage, why should we be left out?’

They get what they want – a share, a large share I should add. Moreover, as a result of their courage, a new Torah law is created, one that intends to benefit future generations long after them.

reading2Their story is the story of the WRJ’s The Torah: A Women’s Commentary. The Women of Reform Judaism said: – ‘Give us a share among our brothers. We are no longer willing to be left out.’ Instead of land, WRJ asks for something even more enduring – ‘Give us a share of our Torah.’ The result is a Torah commentary that we trust will benefit all of us. With this commentary we will continue as sisters to empower the women – and men – who come after us for generations to come.”

Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi: EDITOR
Professor of Bible, HUC-JIR/LA

The Torah: A Women’s Commentary

incorporates contemporary and Jewish perspectives that concern women. It concentrates on passages that reflect biblical constructs of female experience, gender issues or individual women. In addition, the Commentary showcases the scholarship of Jewish women, using their insights to shed light on the Torah.

While there have been various commentaries published in recent years that address women in the Bible and women’s perspectives on the Bible, The Torah: A Women’s Commentary is the first to cover all individual Torah portions.