Rashi's Daughters Book III: Rachael by Maggie Anton
I actually read the first two books in this trilogy about 2 years ago, and I loved them. So much that when I found up the final book was released two weeks ago I made a point to go out buy it. I'm glad I did because I loved this one as much as the first two.
The books are about the three daughters of Solomon ben Issac named Johevad, Miriam, and Rachel. Each book is named after one daughter and told from their point of view, but each follows chronologically after the next. Their father goes onto book a great Jewish scholar who is now know as Rashi. The book are based on fact, or as much fact as we can know considering they take place in 11th century France. What's interesting about Rashi is that he had no sons only daughters, so he taught the Talmud (Judaism's teachings on the Torah) to has daughters, which was not commonly done in those times. The children of his daughters grew up to be the next generation of Jewish scholars. What is interesting to read in epilogue is that a statistician from Stanford calculated that any Jew today with European Jewish ancestry is almost certainly descended from Rashi. I guess that means in a way I'm reading about my great-great-great-(times probably 30 or so)-grandmother and aunts.
One thing I really like is the amount of Judaism I'm able to pick up from the book. I do think I know a good amount about my religion, but there is still a lot of details I don't know. For example, I know the basic stories in the Torah and I know the story behind most holidays. But I don't know some more religious aspects, for example how the rules Judaism provides for the way husband and wife can interact (including that they aren't allowed to touch during her time of the month). And while I know certain prayers like the prayer over the Shabbat candles, I had no idea it wasn't actually written in the Torah and when Jews started saying it. All 3 of the books are filled with these types of details. Details you wouldn't know unless you're really religious (probably orthodox), and even then you may not have heard it before. All three books are filled with details like this.
An interesting aspect of the 3rd book is that it takes place during the first crusade. In school I only remember being taught about how European knights traveled to Israel to try to reclaim it for Christianity. What I didn't learn was that a the same time some of these knights decide that instead of traveling for months of even years to the Middle East, they could rid the world of heresy by starting with the Jews living in Europe itself. While the Middle Ages and Crusades weren't a great time for anyone in Europe, this was especially true from some of the Jews.
I would highly recommend these books to anyone who is Jewish and anyone who isn't Jewish. I do think the middle ages are an interesting time to read about, and the fact that Judaism is involved appeals to me as well. You'll enjoy reading these, and you'll probably learn something while doing so.
7 hours ago