Page 55 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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LERNER / THE MAKING OF A PERSON
49
while exploring the lives o f Israeli women. These eight women
who loom larger than life are, o f course, inaccessible, which, in
tu rn , renders Beatrix all the more helpless.
The mythic dimension is recap tu red in
A Weave of Women
(1978). T he dozen women whose lives are interwoven in this book
are diverse in background and in goals. T h e ir lives are un ited by
the ir involvement with each o the r in the ir common residence, a
stone house in the Old City o f Jerusalem . Although this house,
located directly opposite the Home for Jewish Wayward Girls, is
not the full-time residence o f all the women, it is the ir focus.
A Weave of Women
is a book about women in which men are
clearly peripheral characters. Before the book opens the re is a list
of “the women,” by nationality and name, with a brief description
of each. After the Israeli, British and American women come the
children, both girls, “and the men they encoun ter ,” with no
fu rthe r specific details. The men, many o f whom do not even
have names, are clearly there to enhance the story of the women.
The women o f the house are independen t persons in the ir thirties
who find strength in each other. They rep resen t a very broad
spectrum o f religious, social and sexual behavior. T h e ir concern
with each o ther overrides many o f the issues which would o th e r­
wise divide them.
NEW BEGINNING
Simha is a mystic, the birth o f whose daugh ter marks the
opening o f the book. T he birth, at home, in the presence o f the
women and o f the father, a kibbutznik who is never named, sets
the tone for the book. Simha, whose spirituality is a major aspect
of the book, prays: “I come into your house, O Mother God. You
inclined your ear toward me, and I will whisper into it all the days
o f my life.”17 T he b irth is followed, on the eighth day, by a
hymenotomy, replete with blessings and the hope that this pierc­
ing, among friends, will replace any possible fu ture piercing
among enemies.
The birth and hymenotomy o f Hava, the mother o f all living
things, seem to symbolize a new era for these women. T he cre­
ation o f a new ceremony does, by itself, reinforce that symbol. Yet
17 Broner, .4
Weave of Women
(N.Y.: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978), p. 8.