“I picked it up, and couldn’t put it down. I read it cover to cover, like a novel.”
That’s what one woman told me when we discussed the new book that so many women are talking about: Women Talk by Debbie Shapiro.
Readers are talking about Women Talk, and especially about the amazing variety of women who are interviewed in its pages. We meet a chareidi woman taxi driver who discusses her unusual job choice; the founder of a Bais Yaakov school in a tiny desert community who shares her memories of Rebbetzin Kaplan o’h. A woman who survived Bergen Belsen as a young child tells the story of the “many mothers” who raised her behind the barbed wire fence, and a ba’alas teshuvah talks about her experiences during Hurricane Katrina. We meet a convert from Germany whose Christian parents opposed the Nazi regime and the granddaughter of Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz zt’l, who grew up in the Mir Yeshiva in Yerushalayim. They are so different from each other, these women, yet they all share a love for Torah and the Jewish People, and a fervent desire to serve Hashem.
In an interview with master interviewer Debbie Shapiro, I asked how she made contact with so many different women. “Word of mouth, mostly,” she told me. “I’m a real people person – people seem to naturally open up to me. Most important, I love people, and I love hearing about people’s lives. My friends know that I’m always searching for new ‘victims.’ I read a newspaper article about a rebbetzin who was a convert, born to a Mormon family, and I just knew I had to speak with her. I ‘cold called’ her to ask if she would let me interview her – and she said yes!”
And what, I ask Debbie, are the ingredients that make a remarkable Jewish woman? “We are all remarkable women! It’s really a matter of priorities. It takes the ability to make choices that are Hashem-centered. These women ask themselves what Hashem wants of them at this time in their life, which ultimately means stretching themselves to their limits, without going beyond their limits. It’s a delicate balance, one that we Jewish women are pros at!”
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