To protect has always seemed to me to be the first duty of the parent. Living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with my husband and three young children, I knew what it was I wanted to shield my children from: violence, fear, social disorder so profound that it would unsettle their very sense of safety in the world.
Avivah Zornberg’s classic studies of Genesis and Exodus are now available in paperback. That itself is a strange thing, because if you enter the home of most scholars of ancient Jewish texts, the books lining their walls will be leather-bound volumes with titles printed on the spine in gold or silver lettering — a Jewish form of publishing committed to instantiating spiritual and intellectual value in material that itself looks valuable. Zornberg’s work stands out precisely because of its deep engagement with that inherited “hardcover” world of classical Jewish texts and commentaries, and its simultaneous commitment to the modern “paperback” world of contemporary philosophy, psychoanalysis, literary criticism, anthropology, poetry, drama, novels and essays.
Courtesy Fatpossum Records
My son, Shai, was born on January 21, 2007 and two days later, in time for our arrival home from the hospital, a heavy cardboard box arrived in the mail. University of Nebraska Press had sent me 20 copies of my first book, “Houses Of Study: A Jewish Woman Among Books,” which I had been writing for much of my adult life. Here it was, in hardcover. My first thought was to give one as a gift to our friend Alicia, who had served as our doula at our daughter’s birth in 2004, and had attended Shai’s birth as well.