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Ruth & Esther

Reading Biblical Women

Two women, for very different reasons, are singled out for biblical books of their own. One is a queen and the other is a peasant whose descendants will be the royal House of David. Together, their stories give us a glimpse into Jewish culture and belief, and into the everyday life of women in ancient times.

The Scroll of Esther establishes a new kind of norm for the Jews of the Persian Diaspora and, by extension, for Jewish life in every Diaspora since. It bristles with glamour and palace intrigue and asks some basic questions about anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic danger. It recalls the stories of Joseph and Moses, while telling a costume drama worthy of Cleopatra. Through a colorful PowerPoint® presentation, Rossel takes you into the intrigue and examines the motivations of those who told the story and how it has maintained its relevance through the ages.

The Scroll of Ruth is a simple tale. but a majestic counterpart to the Scroll of Esther. Unlike the story of a lone woman’s struggle for her people, Ruth tells the story of the struggles of all womankind among the Israelites in the days of the Judges. Each scene vividly illuminates a telling aspect of village life and exposes some basic principle of everyday beliefs and practices. It is likewise the story of Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, and of her powerful kinsman, Boaz. Far from the elegance of palaces and servants, perfumes and cosmetics, the Scroll of Ruth deals with prejudice and gossip, love and loyalty. Told in colorful multimedia detail, Rossel brings to the surface so much of the underlying detail of the story of this indomitable woman of the people.

Available Formats

• seminar • scholar-in-residence weekend • lecture or series of lectures • individual workshop segments

Through the ages, the scrolls of Esther and Ruth have inspired artists and storytellers alike. As an adjunct to presenting their teachings, Rabbi Rossel’s PowerPoint® presentations convey visual evidence of the artistry of masters and amateurs alike, all devoted to portraying the essence of these two great biblical women.

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