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Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World's First Female Rabbi

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Osnat was born five hundred years ago – at a time when almost everyone believed in miracles. But very few believed that girls should learn to read. Yet Osnat's father was a great scholar whose house was filled with books. And she convinced him to teach her. Then she in turn grew up to teach others, becoming a wise scholar in her own right, the world's first female rabbi! Som Osnat was born five hundred years ago – at a time when almost everyone believed in miracles. But very few believed that girls should learn to read. Yet Osnat's father was a great scholar whose house was filled with books. And she convinced him to teach her. Then she in turn grew up to teach others, becoming a wise scholar in her own right, the world's first female rabbi! Some say Osnat performed miracles – like healing a dove who had been shot by a hunter! Or saving a congregation from fire! But perhaps her greatest feat was to be a light of inspiration for other girls and boys; to show that any person who can learn might find a path that none have walked before.


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Osnat was born five hundred years ago – at a time when almost everyone believed in miracles. But very few believed that girls should learn to read. Yet Osnat's father was a great scholar whose house was filled with books. And she convinced him to teach her. Then she in turn grew up to teach others, becoming a wise scholar in her own right, the world's first female rabbi! Som Osnat was born five hundred years ago – at a time when almost everyone believed in miracles. But very few believed that girls should learn to read. Yet Osnat's father was a great scholar whose house was filled with books. And she convinced him to teach her. Then she in turn grew up to teach others, becoming a wise scholar in her own right, the world's first female rabbi! Some say Osnat performed miracles – like healing a dove who had been shot by a hunter! Or saving a congregation from fire! But perhaps her greatest feat was to be a light of inspiration for other girls and boys; to show that any person who can learn might find a path that none have walked before.

30 review for Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World's First Female Rabbi

  1. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie A-M

    This is a lovely book about a real life figure I'd never heard of. As an adult reading I was fascinated and I couldn't wait to head straight to Google to learn more. This is the story of a woman doing extraordinary things at a time when women had clearly defined roles in society and being ordinary was all they were allowed to be. I enjoyed this book. I plan to get a copy for my classroom library. This is a lovely book about a real life figure I'd never heard of. As an adult reading I was fascinated and I couldn't wait to head straight to Google to learn more. This is the story of a woman doing extraordinary things at a time when women had clearly defined roles in society and being ordinary was all they were allowed to be. I enjoyed this book. I plan to get a copy for my classroom library.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This is utterly exquisite. I felt transported to Osnat's time and was spellbound by her story. What a remarkable father she had, to teach her at a time when that was not at all encouraged (and actively discouraged)! And how remarkable she was to convince everyone that she could teach them as her father and husband had done before her. Although this is a biography be aware that it's told very much as a story full of spirituality and miracles. Not that I feel it is being dogmatic in any way, but i This is utterly exquisite. I felt transported to Osnat's time and was spellbound by her story. What a remarkable father she had, to teach her at a time when that was not at all encouraged (and actively discouraged)! And how remarkable she was to convince everyone that she could teach them as her father and husband had done before her. Although this is a biography be aware that it's told very much as a story full of spirituality and miracles. Not that I feel it is being dogmatic in any way, but it recounts the miracles Osnat was said to have performed as the people experienced them -- not in a detached way, but full of wonder and credulity. It appears some reviewers were troubled by this but it didn't bother me. We are told what the people believed they saw -- readers can bring to that their own spirituality or simply read it from a historical perspective. In any case, Osnat was a brilliant scholar, poet and believed to be the first female rabbi -- her story is remarkable and I'm so glad this biography exists! I do wish the author's note included a list of sources (she mentions Osnat's letters, folktales and legends, but no specific books or websites one can look to) but apparently there source material is actually very limited. Per this article by LIOR ZALTZMAN/JTA from the Jerusalem Post: Information about Osnat is scarce. Most of it comes from a few letters, manuscripts and wonderfully enough, Jewish amulets that tell of her supernatural powers. According to the Jewish Women’s Archive, these included “her ability to limit her childbearing to two children so that she could devote herself to her studies.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Klein

    LOVED this new book. It arrived today and I immediately read it cover to cover out loud to my dog, which seems appropriate since she would read out loud to her dove. And then read it to my study partner. It is fascinating. There are several who claim the title of first woman rabbi. Rabbi Sally Priesand, first woman ordained by the Reform Movement in 1972. Rabbi Regina Jonas, a rabbi ordained in 1935 Germany (and my study partner's mother's Hebrew teacher in Germany) who then was murdered in Ausc LOVED this new book. It arrived today and I immediately read it cover to cover out loud to my dog, which seems appropriate since she would read out loud to her dove. And then read it to my study partner. It is fascinating. There are several who claim the title of first woman rabbi. Rabbi Sally Priesand, first woman ordained by the Reform Movement in 1972. Rabbi Regina Jonas, a rabbi ordained in 1935 Germany (and my study partner's mother's Hebrew teacher in Germany) who then was murdered in Auschwitz Some even describe Bruiah in the Talmud, wife of Rabbi Meir as a rabbi. A little like Yentl or Rashi's Daughter's, the artwork is stunning in this short children's book making me hunger for more! Osnat most certainly was a teacher. But here is the tale of a woman born in 1590 in Mosul, Iraq. Her father, the rabbi, taught her. Her husband became the head of the yeshiva and she taught the boys. Then when he died, she became the head of the yeshiva! She was the rabbi! This is a charming book with great illustrations and just in time for Women's History Month. Delighted that it has been published.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Erika Dreifus

    An utterly beautiful book. Literally beautiful--the art is stunning. But the story also shines so brightly because it's so untold. After catching one of the author's online appearances, I have much that I'd love to discuss with her: writing picture-books after publishing for grown-ups; #kidlit genre conventions; telling "untold" (or less-frequently-told) stories; the challenges of writing about a true-life character who may have left little/no recorded dialogue. (I'd also like to talk with her m An utterly beautiful book. Literally beautiful--the art is stunning. But the story also shines so brightly because it's so untold. After catching one of the author's online appearances, I have much that I'd love to discuss with her: writing picture-books after publishing for grown-ups; #kidlit genre conventions; telling "untold" (or less-frequently-told) stories; the challenges of writing about a true-life character who may have left little/no recorded dialogue. (I'd also like to talk with her more about mentor texts, a topic that came up in Q&A this evening.) But for now, I just wish her hearty congratulations on this achievement. I foresee many awards for this book!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Osnat and Her Dove is the nonfiction story of “a woman with a curious mind, kind heart, and, according to some, miraculous power--the first female rabbi in history.” Osnat describes her childhood, “I was like a princess of Israel...I grew up on the laps of scholars, anchored to my father of blessed memory.” “Perhaps her greatest feat was to be a light of inspiration to others--to show others that any person might find a path that none have walked before.” Today, her legacy lives on as the first Osnat and Her Dove is the nonfiction story of “a woman with a curious mind, kind heart, and, according to some, miraculous power--the first female rabbi in history.” Osnat describes her childhood, “I was like a princess of Israel...I grew up on the laps of scholars, anchored to my father of blessed memory.” “Perhaps her greatest feat was to be a light of inspiration to others--to show others that any person might find a path that none have walked before.” Today, her legacy lives on as the first female Kurdish Jewish leader, which proved especially significant to me after spending the summer teaching in Kurdistan in 2016!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ellon

    So first off, let me say, I love that this book exists! It tells the story of the first female rabbi and that alone is remarkable. However there were a few things that made me give this book over 3 stars: -Mainly, I'm not a fan of magical realism. Like I get that the unrealistic things in this book are supposed to be the legends of her "miracles" but I just don't think they belong in a biography as fact (especially the one dove flapping its wings to put out a fire) -the illustration style wasn't m So first off, let me say, I love that this book exists! It tells the story of the first female rabbi and that alone is remarkable. However there were a few things that made me give this book over 3 stars: -Mainly, I'm not a fan of magical realism. Like I get that the unrealistic things in this book are supposed to be the legends of her "miracles" but I just don't think they belong in a biography as fact (especially the one dove flapping its wings to put out a fire) -the illustration style wasn't my favorite -the text dragged a bit (I found myself thinking "how many more pages?" at one point and that's never a good sign). But overall, still a good book that have unique representation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Bange

    A stunning picture book introduction to the woman that many consider to be the first female rabbi. from the book: Vali Mintzi painted the artwork for this book with gouache colors in layers. She started out with a rough pencil sketch of the composition, then moved to a transparent, monochrome layer (red for illustrations of daylight and mauve for those of night), after which she added layers of gouache color. For the final layer, Vali inserted details with a thin paintbrush: faces, expressions, pa A stunning picture book introduction to the woman that many consider to be the first female rabbi. from the book: Vali Mintzi painted the artwork for this book with gouache colors in layers. She started out with a rough pencil sketch of the composition, then moved to a transparent, monochrome layer (red for illustrations of daylight and mauve for those of night), after which she added layers of gouache color. For the final layer, Vali inserted details with a thin paintbrush: faces, expressions, patterns of carpets and cloths, stars in the depths of the night. Recommended for PreSchool-grade 3.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Anne

    Very readable and story-like biography. I did not know there was a female rabbi that existed in Iraq. Such a contrast to what is often said about women in that part of the world. A wonderful story of a kind and determined woman who wanted to use her mind instead of falling into the gender stereotypes and expectations.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lara Lleverino

    This is a beautifully illustrated picture book. It is written on the level that very young children could understand but depending on your worldview you might want to read it with your child. It talks about reported miracles Osnat, the young girl in the story, performs. Osnat is a Kurdish Jew in what is modern day Iraq. I really really enjoyed the story and the illustrations.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I love that this book exists and I thought the illustrations were gorgeous. I do wish that the story had a stronger narrative through line beyond just - this woman lived and here are some things that she did during her lifetime. But what a privilege to have an opinion about the way a children's story about this amazing Jewish woman is told. I love that this book exists and I thought the illustrations were gorgeous. I do wish that the story had a stronger narrative through line beyond just - this woman lived and here are some things that she did during her lifetime. But what a privilege to have an opinion about the way a children's story about this amazing Jewish woman is told.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leah Horlick

    I just loved everything about this. Totally gorgeous, from the story to the illustrations to the author's notes. Amazing work as always from Sigal Samuel, complete with tremendously important #OwnVoices Mizrahi representation and joyful celebration of a historic Jewish woman. Everyone's getting copies for Hanukkah this year <3 I just loved everything about this. Totally gorgeous, from the story to the illustrations to the author's notes. Amazing work as always from Sigal Samuel, complete with tremendously important #OwnVoices Mizrahi representation and joyful celebration of a historic Jewish woman. Everyone's getting copies for Hanukkah this year <3

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shannon (That's So Poe)

    This book is not only incredibly gorgeous, but also has such a neat story of a historical figure! I'd never heard of Osnat before, so it was fascinating to learn about her life. Definitely would recommend anyone who likes biographical picture books to pick this up! Content Warnings: house fire, death of a family member, animal death This book is not only incredibly gorgeous, but also has such a neat story of a historical figure! I'd never heard of Osnat before, so it was fascinating to learn about her life. Definitely would recommend anyone who likes biographical picture books to pick this up! Content Warnings: house fire, death of a family member, animal death

  13. 4 out of 5

    Annamarie Carlson (she, her)

    Learn about Osnat, the first female rabbi, born about 500 years ago. Follow her through her childhood when she passionately learned to read the Torah through her journey to adulthood and her time as a teacher, mentor, and leader.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie Reilley

    A beautifully illustrated picture book about Osnat, Barzani, the world’s first female rabbi. Brilliant scholar, poet, and respected teacher, Osnat is remembered as the first female Kurdish Jewish leader.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tina Hoggatt

    An inspiring story of just what the title says brought to life through fable and fact. Rich illustrations by Vali Mintzi capture both aspects of Osnat's life. I was touched by the world's first female rabbi coming from Mosul which today is battered and experiencing sectarian warfare. An inspiring story of just what the title says brought to life through fable and fact. Rich illustrations by Vali Mintzi capture both aspects of Osnat's life. I was touched by the world's first female rabbi coming from Mosul which today is battered and experiencing sectarian warfare.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Rubin

    A fantastic true story of the life of a 17th-century Jewish woman scholar with mystical power. Kids will love the story and illustrations, but they also carry weight and depth that can be appreciated by readers of all ages.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Interesting biography about something I know little to nothing about. Made me want to learn more about her life, history, culture and beliefs. Great artwork. Loved the color palettes the illustrator used.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This is a wonderful picture book biography about the first female rabbi, Osnat Barzani, who lived in what is now Iraq nearly fice hundred years ago. This story combines the facts and myth of Osnat's life into a beautiful story. The illustrations are stunning. I loved this! Highly recommended. This is a wonderful picture book biography about the first female rabbi, Osnat Barzani, who lived in what is now Iraq nearly fice hundred years ago. This story combines the facts and myth of Osnat's life into a beautiful story. The illustrations are stunning. I loved this! Highly recommended.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hanna

    Excellent biography. I love how her beautiful face sticks out of the picture while other faces look away.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Interesting story of the first renal rabbi. Love the miracles attributed to her intervention.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    What an amazing story!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    A beautifully written and illustrated picture book biography of a woman in religion — not common in the picture book biography section.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jo Oehrlein

    I liked hearing how 500 years ago she was able to lead the yeshiva and provide counsel (that was listed to!) even though she was a woman

  24. 4 out of 5

    Megan Wagner

    I want to know more about her!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Beautiful story! I love the author's note at the end. Beautiful story! I love the author's note at the end.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    This beautiful picture book biography tells the story of Osnat, the woman some consider to be the first female rabbi.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Beautiful artwork and an even more beautiful story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Miss Sarah

    A moving picture book biography of the first female Rabbi in 1590 who pursued a religious education and took over as head of the temple in her area. Easy to follow. elementary and up

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marcie

    Nice book for the synagogue library that beautifully tells the story of what is considered the first female rabbi.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Margie

    Building a collection of factual, appealing, and captivating titles regarding world religions and notable leaders and teachers within those religions is challenging. For readers seeking more knowledge about their faith or curious about the practices of other faiths, selected books offer the best representation by own voices authors and illustrators. When these authors and illustrators create nonfiction picture books, they do so with an informed perspective. Tuesdays are a highlight in the childr Building a collection of factual, appealing, and captivating titles regarding world religions and notable leaders and teachers within those religions is challenging. For readers seeking more knowledge about their faith or curious about the practices of other faiths, selected books offer the best representation by own voices authors and illustrators. When these authors and illustrators create nonfiction picture books, they do so with an informed perspective. Tuesdays are a highlight in the children's literature world with the release of new titles. On the first Tuesday of this month, two beautiful books, certain to enhance collections in public school libraries and on the bookshelves in Jewish and Christian places of worship, were published. Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World's First Female Rabbi (an Arthur A. Levine book, Levine Querido, February 2, 2021) written by Sigal Samuel with illustrations by Vali Mintzi chronicles the life and life's work of an inspirational, dedicated, and innovative woman. My full recommendation: https://librariansquest.blogspot.com/...

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