IF ALL THE SEAS WERE INK by Ilana  Kurshan

IF ALL THE SEAS WERE INK

A Memoir
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Gleaning wisdom from the Talmud during a time of personal crisis.

When Kurshan, who has worked in publishing as an editor, translator, and foreign rights representative, left her job and home in New York City to follow her new husband to Jerusalem, she never imagined she'd be divorced in a year's time. With only a few friends, she was unsure of what to do with herself until a friend suggested she adopt the practice of daf yomi: reading a page a day of the Talmud. Undaunted by the idea that it would take more than seven years to complete the full text on Jewish law, Kurshan dove in, embracing each day and reading with an open mind. What she discovered was invigorating, exciting, and challenging as she worked her way through a text geared primarily for the male half of the Jewish population. She also found that the commitment to follow daf yomi connected her to a worldwide network of people also following the same practice; all participants used a schedule set up by a rabbi in 1923 so that everyone would literally be on the same page on the same day. Kurshan expertly incorporates quotes from the Talmud in her reflections on the various arguments and the important events in her life that she recorded in a journal as she progressed. Readers witness the sinuous progression of her devotion and her movement into a new marriage and the births of her children as the seven-plus years unfold. Though the author claims one doesn't need to be Jewish or even religious to study the Talmud, a basic understanding of Judaism, the customs, and important religious holidays would be useful to anyone reading Kurshan's memoir.

An intriguing, scholarly memoir of being a woman and studying the Talmud that will appeal most to those deeply interested in Judaism.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-12126-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2017




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