What impressed me most about this picture book based on the true story of the world’s first female rabbi was that 500 years ago, there was such a forward-thinking man such as Osnat’s dad, who agreed to teach his only child to read and to study the Torah, and that he insisted she find a husband who didn’t make her do chores, but allow her to continue her studies. And he she did.
That’s amazing. According to the Osnat and Her Dove’s author, Sigal Samuel, people didn’t see Osnat’s gender as an issue. She was an amazing teacher, with a curious mind, kind heart and “miraculous power.”
The story begins almost 500 years ago, when Osnat was born in the Middle East. She grew up with her rabbi father, who built a yeshiva, a Jewish educational institute where people study the ancient texts. Osnat was often left alone as her father went from town to town creating new yeshivas. Osnat eventually learned to read, spending her solitude hours with the books and a dove had befriended.
“Then she in turn grew up to teach others, become a wise and famous scholar. She was the world’s first female rabbi. Along the way, people told amazing stories about her…”
In the author’s note, Samuel said she based this story on folktales told about Osnat, some of her writings that remain and legends found in amulets.
“But perhaps her greatest feat was to be a light of inspiration for others – to show that any person who can learn might find a path that none shave walked before.”
I liked learning about the Osnat and how she was a modern woman in a far from modern world – she had a career (although I suppose a calling isn’t considered a career, but you get the point) and a family. Lots of interesting information. The illustrations by Vali Mintzi are also great.
Happy Passover for those who celebrate.
A copy of Osnat and Her Dove is courtesy of Raincoast Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.