Book's Reviews

A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book

About the Book

Book's Reviews

Aliza Lavie's Biography

Bride reading a pray from A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book
on her wedding day.

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 Mara Lander,
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Questions and Comments

I'd be glad to receive your comments, original prayers, comments, or further information about women's prayers by e-mail, for the purposes of ongoing research and to contribute to the discussion on this site.

  Dear Aliza Lavie,
My name is Hannah Bender. I am 15 years old and am a member of the Reformed Jewish Congregation, Etz Chaim in Lombard, IL. I live in a very non-Jewish area and recently got back from a trip to Israel with my synogauge and my appreciation, interest, and love for my religion grew. So much that I now aspire to become a rabbi. I recently purchased your book "A Jewish Woman's Prayer Book," at my local scholastic book warehouse, and I was blown away. I use the morning and night prayers everyday and for all other occasions. One thing did strike me about the English though, I was wondering why if it's a womens prayer book, why were the words "Him," "He," and "His" used in place of the word God as to suggest God was male? I understand that the Hebrew is in the masculine form but shouldn't it be gender nutural? Thank you for your time, I really appreciate your work on this book.
H. Bender

Dear H,
First of all, I am glad that you are using and enjoying my book. I hope your continued journey into the depths of judaism will be meaningful and fulfilling.
As for your question, firstly, I did my best not to change any of the language in the texts I found, even when there were grammatical or language mistakes. I did not want to change tradition, I just recorded what I found.
Secondly, we did our best to translate as close to the text as possible and since the language of the text was masculine then the name or pronoun for God had to be masculine too. This was not a statement of belief, but rather an attempt to keep the translation consistent and coherent as a whole.
Wishing you all the best of luck,

Readers Comments and reviews at Miniature Wargaming website.

Dear Aliza,

Two years ago I suggested to David Silber that the Drisha Minyan incorporate short readings from Zelda's poetry into the Yom Kippur tefillah. My motivation was a concern that the spirited musical language of the minyan was overshadowing the powerful verbal language of the Mahzor; and the realization that the poetry's noncanconical status might enable women to play a more public and central role in a traditional Halachic tefillah.

While the experiment was limited and the response not overwhelming (A statement about my grasp of poetry, prayer and women?) I still think the idea holds promise. Perhaps you can reshape it and infuse it with new life.

Click here for the proposal

Jack Flamholz

Dear Dr. Lavie-

I had the pleasure of hearing you speak at Rinat Israel in Teaneck recently and was very impressed by your efforts to create this wonderful Prayer Book.

One of the questions from the audience was regarding interest in your Prayer Book by non - Jewish people. You responded that there have been instances of Arab women using your Prayer Book to pray.

I was very intrigued by your response. It occurred to me (and probably to you and your publisher), that there could be a very broad and diverse audience (and need) for your Prayer Book. But more importantly, your Prayer Book could become an important catalyst for helping Israel change it's image and maybe even help bring a little bit of peace to this turbulent world.

Dr. Lavie, you represent a new generation of Jew and Israeli. Israel has been a leader in science, technology and military might but it has been many years since the Jews have been a spiritual inspiration to others. As Isaiah said, the Jews should be a light unto nations. Your Prayer Book could be that spark. It could touch many people - Jew and non-Jew alike.

More specifically, my suggestion is that you have the book translated into Arabic (and other languages?) for at least two reasons.

1. From a public relations and sales perspective, I would think that there could be much interest by Oprah Winfrey to have you on her show. By having the book in English and Arabic , it demonstrates both universalism and a unique effort to reach out to others in a very important area- the spiritual. (I am sure there are many contacts in the Jewish community who could bring you and your Prayer Book to Oprah's attention. )

2. A Jewish Prayer Book translated into Arabic, represents an idealism crystallized through prayer that we can all come together and make this world a better place. If women from around the world can share common prayers, it brings hope that they can also shape a more promising future for our children.

If you get on Oprah, please let me know as I would be interested in seeing the show.

If I can be of any assistance, please let me know.

I wish you much success with your Prayer Book.

Shabbat Shalom,

Wonderful - todah rabah Aliza for coming and giving your lecture on Esther Malcha!

The event was a real success and on behalf of the entire Boston Hadassah Chapter I wish you todah and l'hatzbicha on your new book.

Be well, kol tuv, and Shabbat Shalom,

Director, The Boston Chapter of Hadassah

Fanny Neuda By Bettina Kratz-Ritter / Jewish Women's Archive

Dear Dr. Lavie,
I just watched your interview on Shalom TV and was so taken by your words. I am anxious to get a copy of your work. Thank you so very much for writing about this significant subject .
All the best to you.

Hi Aliza - it was so great to meet you and your family! Your presentation at Rinat was a huge hit - hope you can come back for a return engagement.
Best regards, F.

Shalom, Aliza!
It was great to meet you on Tuesday night. Thank you for leading such a lively discussion at the beit midrash and for sharing your research. I decided to write a blog entry about your work on the blog of the Jewish Women's Archive (which is called "Jewesses With Attitude"). Here is the link:
My co-workers and I would love to find a time for you to come to the Jewish Women's Archive to tell us more about the work you are doing, and to share some of the work we are doing as well. When do you return to Israel? What is your schedule over the next month or two?
All the best, and looking forward to staying in touch!
Jordan (Gershona)

Hi Aliza,
One more question:
In the Yahrzeit Prayer on page 382, there are places to insert the name of the deceased and to "insert loved one's mother's name." In Traditional Judaism, the deceased is usually referred to as the son/daughter of the father. Is the reference in your book a change because it is a woman's prayer?
Thank you for your help,
Kathe Pinchuck
Association of Jewish Libraries

(Aliza's Answer:)

Dear Kathe,
Thank you for your enquiry.
This is exactly how this Yahrzeit Prayer appears in the original. I did no editing and made no changes.
There are instances of linguistic changes in the gender conjugation in Hebrew, into feminine form, where it is clear that the prayer is meant for a woman to recite - in our case, for a woman to recite during the Yizkor service. I will consult with a rabbi in this regard. Thank you for drawing my attention to this.
In general, where it comes to many areas related to mourning, the halakha is not clearly defined. There are different customs concerning bereavement and mourning, and this may be the case here, too. It may reflect a sort of sensitivity and understanding.
This area could certainly benefit from further research and investigation.

Dear Aliza,
I am still trying to trace my grandmother's copy of Neuda. My uncle didn't find it but reports finding a different book, also in german.  I attach his description in case you are familiar with that book:

My uncle wrote:

.... I  did find a volume among the few books I got from Oma, by J.H.Kohn entitled " Bibel und Talmudtchat..." for the title page is loose and frayed. It is not excactly what I remember from my youth as a volume specifically entitled for " Frauen" , i.e. women. The title translates into "Bible and Talmuting ?Musings"..It is subtitled "Ein Familienbuch fur yeder Stand, besonders fur Frauen und Yugend beidere Geschlechtes' which translates into "a family book for all occasions especially for women and youth of both genders". I have the 7th  " Improved" Edtion, Second Part, published in Budapest in 1883 by Moriz Burian. 

Hi Aliza,
I love your book and have given to several friends (including a Christian woman and a woman rabbi!). I was wondering if you know of any prayers for mothers of single children (to find their mates), and for a mother to say on the occasion of a son's engagement/wedding.  I love the mother in law prayer!!  Thanks.

Thanks, nice talking to you. Just remembered one more thing: about Got Fun Avrohom: there's a woman at Young Israel who someone said maybe says that prayer or might remember it being said.  I've been meaning to ask her, but if you want to, you can do it instead. I don't know if you're really interested in this topic, but it's very interesting to me how so many people think of that as THE quintessential women's prayer in Yiddish, and yet you haven't encountered any women with a personal connection with it and neither have I. Anyhow, if you're interested, her name is Frieda. She works at Israel Book Shop.  Perhaps you know her. She's a survivor from Germany, but with Polish parents, so she speaks Yiddish fluently.

Congratulations on your #1 bestseller!
Kol tuv,
Hi Aliza,
I read the Jewish week article. So impressive. Meanwhile, I'm spreading the word about the book.  An Israeli woman who came to the Mikvah this past week had just had another miscarriage.
I told her to buy the book & wrote out the title for her tobuy it a Israel Book Shop. I have some questions to discuss with you when you get back from London.  

Hi Aliza,
I love your book and have given to several friends (including a Christian woman and a woman rabbi!). I was wondering if you know of any prayers for mothers of single children (to find their mates), and for a mother to say on the occasion of a son's engagement/wedding. I love the mother in law prayer!! Thanks.

Dear Ms. Lavie.
A friend of mine, Tova Moonay, attended =our lecture on Thursday evening, Dec.11 at Young Israel in Buffalo. New =ork. I am sorry to have missed this talk. Tova remembered that on Friday =ve. I say a German prayer on lighting the candles I memorized this prayer because my mother used it after lighting the candles. =his prayer can be found in the HANNAH . Gebet und Andachtsbuch fuer =sralitische Frauen und Maedchen compiled by Jacob Freund, of which I have the 9nth =dition, pub. in Breslau, l908.
However, I also have another German prayerbook for women by the title of STUNDEN DER ANDACHT BY =anny Neuda,
22d edition, Prag, Breslau, l911 =Publisher Jakob B.Brandeis. (The spine label is gone). Anyway, my =riend Tova thought you might be interested to know that I own these copies, handed =own to me by my mother. They escaped the theft of my father's Judaica =ollection (he was a rabbi in Germany) and made it to the U.S. with us =n August 1939. I would love to hear from you
and wonder how many copies of these =rayerbooks are still around. By the way, I translated the prayer on lighting the =andles into English just so the family would know what I was saying but they =ike me to say it in German.
Sincerely , M.

Aliza, Todah Rabbah! Thank you so much for sharing some of your story and your learning with us. I look forward to your next book and you are welcoming to join us any time. Hanukkah Sameah.
Rabbi David Lerner
Temple Emunah
9 Piper Road
Lexington, MA 02421

Thank you again for speaking about your quest for Jewish women's prayers and the book. It was a very moving talk and many people commented that your talk was very meaningful to them.
I realized with regret that we did not have an opportunity to even show you the beautiful Sanctuary at the Temple. Best regards to all.

Thank you so much for traveling to our community. You have inspired us and I wish we had all day to talk to you. The women present were as touched as I personally was as your message is so powerful!
I will send you the pictures I tool soon.
Gook luck in your travel in the US and have a safe trip back to Israel. (I told my daughter to take one of your classes next semester at Bar Ilanů)
All the best!
Orly Lewis
Director of Adult Services
Weinstein JCC
5403 Monument Ave.
Richmond VA 23226
804-545-8610 Fax: 804-545-8679

The JewBerry: Praying on the PDA / Ynet Read

Aliza shalom,
Thank you for your inspirational lecture this evening and helping to make our sukkah kehilatit project so successful this year. Can you send your fax number so my wife can fax you the bat-mitzvah tfilla?
Chag sameach, and thank you again,

The eve of Passover, 5705 - 1945
By Aliza Lavie, Haaretz, April 2006
(this article is based on information recieved after the book was published).

Toby's Haggadah. Brought to custody in the holocaust Studies institute in memory of Hedva Iveshitz in Haifa By Toby's friend Aliza Klein.

Two young women are on the death march from Auschwitz to the territories of the old Germany. Two friends from the city of Munkacs in Hungary: Toby Trakltaub and Aliza Klein. The Germans are slaughtering the Jews who are dragging along with the last remnants of their strength. Only a few of them will survive. Toby did not live to see the liberation, Aliza did. A moment before her death, Toby handed her friend a tiny booklet bound in blue cloth, its pages folded toilet paper.

Aliza will never know where Toby obtained toilet paper in the camp. On the binding Toby had embroidered letters with threads she had unraveled from her prisoner's garments. Around the edge she made a frame. Above, on the right, she embroidered the word "Zion" and in the center, a map. A map of the land of Israel, in its familiar outlines: Haifa Bay, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea. And inside the booklet, page after page - written and vowel pointed in her careful handwriting.

Years will go by before Aliza identifies the map on the binding and learns to read what is written in the booklet. For more than half a century her friend's gift will lie among her personal possessions until she decides to pass the legacy along to an institution that documents the Holocaust. Only then will she understand what she held in her hands: a Passover Haggadah. Not the usual, familiar Haggadah of her childhood home, but rather a personal appeal to the Creator of the World. "And you shall retell," in the spirit of the times. "Toby was very religious," Aliza Klein related many years later, "and so as not to forget the holidays, she made a Jewish calendar for herself. That way she knew when Hanukkah was, and Purim and when Passover was approaching." And thus she also knew to write on the first page that it was written during Passover, 5075 - that is, in 1945. In the Jewish tradition, Passover is made up of two central ideas that reach their climax in the story of the Exodus from Egypt: The one is personal and national freedom and the other is the absolute faith in one God, the God of Abraham. In a situation in which she was left without a shred of personal freedom, Toby expressed her absolute faith. In quite a number of ghettoes and concentration camps many tried to reproduce the Haggadah, and even to illustrate it, and to hold a symbolic Passover seder.

But Toby did not reproduce the Haggadah. She rewrote it, in the Auschwitz version. In the midst of the inferno, in Hebrew that had been preserved, apparently, from the well-developed Jewish education system in the town of Munkacs )which also included a Hebrew Gymnasium(, she wrote about the hope for freedom "and a better and more beautiful future about which we want to think and not hang our heads." Out of the horror of abandonment she wrote: "And if God saved our forefathers from Egypt, he will also save us from our bitter enslavement and return us to the land of our forefathers." Faith, she wrote, is the only thing that "they" cannot take away. The inclusion of Toby's Haggadah in the book "Women's Prayer" was accompanied by some linguistic indecision. Toby's language is rich, but in the text there are some errors of spelling, conjugation and vowel pointing. In the end, we decided that we must not change the language of her work, which teaches about the conditions and the times in which it was created. And here is the Haggadah: We want to celebrate but we cannot, we desire to believe and the only thing we have and that they cannot take from us is memory only this can give us hope for a better and more beautiful future about which we want to think and not hang our heads and if God saved our forefathers from Egypt he will also save us from our bitter enslavement. And return us to the land of our forefathers.

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