Books

If All the Seas Were Ink

At the age of 27, alone in Jerusalem in the wake of a painful divorce, Ilana Kurshan joined the world’s largest book club, learning daf yomi, Hebrew for “daily page” of the Talmud, a book of rabbinic teachings spanning about 600 years and the basis for all codes of Jewish law. A runner, a reader and a romantic, Kurshan adapted to its pace, attuned her ear to its poetry, and discovered her passions in its pages. She brought the Talmud with her wherever she went, studying in airplanes, supermarket lines, and over a plate of pasta at home, careful not to drip tomato sauce upon discussions about the sprinkling of blood on the Temple altar. By the time she completed the Talmud after seven and a half years, Kurshan was remarried with three young children. With each pregnancy, her Talmud sat perched atop her growing belly.

This memoir is a tale of heartache and humor, of love and loss, of marriage and motherhood, and of learning to put one foot in front of the other by turning page after page. Kurshan takes us on a deeply accessible and personal guided tour of the Talmud, shedding new light on its stories and offering insights into its arguments—both for those already familiar with the text and for those who have never encountered it. For people of the book—both Jewish and non-Jewish—If All the Seas Were Ink is a celebration of learning, through literature, how to fall in love once again.

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Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights?: The Four Questions Around the World

Going Hungry:  Writers on Desire, Self-Denial, and Overcoming Anorexia

This illuminating and beautifully illustrated book translates the Passover seder’s Four Questions into 23 languages and provides capsule histories of the Jews in the countries where the languages are spoken. Here, collected for the first time, 19 writers describe their eating disorders from the distance of recovery, exposing as never before the anorexic’s self-enclosed world. (Contributor.)
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Victorian Literary Mesmerism

A Shabbat Reader

Drawing on recent trends in interdisciplinary literary scholarship, the essays collected here investigate the complex connections between literature and mesmerism in Victorian writing. (Contributor.) A collection of spiritual essays, poetry, and meditations on the transcendent meaning of the seventh day. (Contributor.)