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April 26, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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April 26, 2013
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 26, 2013 PAGE .. Author of "Rashi's Daughters' to speak about her new novel By Deborah Swerdlow Few people expect to un- cover tales of Jewish magic and sorcery while searching for female names common . to third-century Babylonia. Then again, even fewer people expect a chemist to become a critically acclaimed author of Jewish historical fiction. Maggie Anton, author of the "Rashi's Daughters" trilogy, has experienced both situa- tions. She will speak about her writing process and her new book, "Rav Hisda's Daughter, Book I: Apprentice: A Novel of Love, the Talmud, an d Sor- cery," at 7 pm. Thursday, May 9 in the Temple Israel Roth Social Hall, 50 S. Moss Road, Winter Springs. The event is organized by Temple Israel Sisterhood. "Rav Hisda's Daughter, Book I" takes place in third- century Babylonia, at the time when the rabbis were writing the Talmud. The daughter of the prom!nent rabbi Rav Hisda caught Anton's attention when she found a Tal'mud pas- sage detailing an occurrence from when the girl, whom Anton names Hisdadukh, was Maggie Anton 8 or 9 years old. The passage says Rav His- da's daughter is in the class- room with her father when he calls up his two best students and asks which one she wants to marry. Astonishingly, she answers, "Both of them"-- and the Talmud says that is exactly wht happens. She marries the older student and bears his children, and then marries the younger one and has children with him after she is widowed. "I thought, 'Wouldn't I want to know her story?,'" Anton said. "And ifI wanted to By Claudia Green Jewish Pavilion volunteer A group of guys from Congregation Ohev Shalom Men's Club have taken it upon themselves to organize a fun golf tournament with proceeds going to the Jewish Pavilion. The newly formed 'Pavil- ion Golf Society' committee, :o-chaired by Ken Davis and Lloyd Green, said they are working extremely hard to ensure that the tourna- ment is a huge success. As the Jewish Pavilion has an ongoing need for funding, know her story, it was pretty clear who was going to have towrite it!" Anton's desire to write the kind of book she wanted to read is what led her to become a writer in the first place, turning away from a career as a clinical chemist. "I did not even take English in college," she said. But as Anton began study- ing Talmud later in life, she be- came intrigued by the.women mentioned--though 'not focused on--in the Talmud. When she read that Rashi, the great Talmudic scholar of 11th century France, had three daughters who were '!reputed to be learners," she wondered what their lives were like. Thus was born her trilogy, "Rashi's .Daughters." Anton said she had all three books sketched out when she started writing the "Rashi's Daughters" ser.ies, but the "fun part" was discovering new stories and tidbits of in- formation while researching, since she continued to study Talmud throughout the writ- ing process. In contrast, "Rav Hisda's Daughter" didn't start out as a series. In fact, it didn,t even start out as a book about magic and sorcery. Anton said she was looking at Babylonian incantation bowls to choose a relevant and appropriate name for the character of Rav Hisda's daughter when she no- ticed the bowls were written in Hebrew characters and quoted sacred Jewish texts such as the Torah and Mishnah. Wondering what the Tal- mud had to say about literate Jews calling on magic and sor- cery, Anton soon found that the Talmudwas full of positive references to magic and that "the rabbis are adamant that sorcery is the provinces of women," she said. "And that's when it oc- curred to me," Anton said, "No wonder the rabbis don't have any complaints about these women. They're their wives and daughters! These are women in rabbinic house- holds who would have the necessary skills to write these incantation bowls." Thus, "Rav Hisda's Daugh- ter" took on a new trajectory. Anton intends to show how Hisdadukh chooses to be a sorceress, how she learns, who teaches her, the chal- lenges she encounters along the way of becoming a sorcer- ess, and other developments she never could have envi- sioned before discovering the Babylonian incantation bowls. "That's probably the most difficult challenge: to take the reader into this world that frankly is as bizarre as anything, in a science fiction or fantasy novel, except that this world really does exist in Jewish history--or did exist," Anton said. Anton said she hopes her books and her discussions with communities like the Orlando Jewish community will encourage Jewish women, Pavilion golf tourney tees off June 2 it is envisioned that this will start at8:30 a.m. and it will The Jewish Pavilion does become an annual event on the calendar. The inaugural golf tour- nament is scheduled for Sunday, June 2 at Alaqua Country Club in Longwood. "We are truly excited about the day and are hopeful that substantial funds will be raised," says Davis. "Times are tough for people at the moment, which is why it's even more imperative to ensure that the Jewish Pa- vilionis able to continue its fantastic work throughout our community." There will be a shotgun be a four-ball game with prizes throughout the day for competitions such as nearest the pin. A maximum of 100 players will be treated to breakfast and lunch. The committee says they are delighted that they have secured two major sponsors, Florida Hospital and Fifth Third Bank, both of which will have teams playing. The committee says profes- sionals from across various industries will be present on the day, which could give you the chance to meet some new business contacts. so much. work with seniors living in long-term care facili- ties. The charity also runs a Senior Help Desk (www. orlandoseniorhelpdesk.org), which offers free objective advice and support to families that want access to informa- tion about senior care. The current economic climate has obviously had an impact on the Jewish Pavilion as it relies heavily upon donations. Fundrais- ing has become increasingly more difficult and charities are constantly having, to come up with new and in- novative ideas in "order to keep the donations coming in. Nancy Ludin, execu- tive director of the Jewish Pavilion, says, "We are so thrilled that the Men's Club decided to organize a golf tournament on behalf of the Jewish Pavilion. Funds will be used to increase staffing ofournew Senior Help Desk. Asuccessful tournamentwill mean that seniors and their families are able to access all the information and referral services they desire." Presently, the Senior Help Desk is only staffed on a part-time basis, but as the By Doreen Monk Two hundred fifty people, one huge tent, and the smell of brisket coming from the oven, can only mean one thing: Passover at Chabad of UCF is here! Every year," Chabad of the University of Central Floria holds sed- ers on the first two nights of Passover, open to all Jewish students in the Orlando area. With many students from out of state or even down south, and unable to celebrate Pesach'with their families, Chabad remains their home away from home. Hundreds enjoy Passover with Chabad at UCF All set up for the seder dent's passover dinner typi- cally consists of "matzah pizza", but when you joined Chabad for their meals, you were guaranteed to leave with a full stomach. Overall 1,000 meals were served over Passover. Feel free to join Chabad of UCF every Shabbat for a Friday night four-course meal, new friends, and a truly generous and wel- coming family; it's an all- encompassing experience you don't want to miss! For more information about Chabad at UCF please visit www.jewishucf.com. Lighting holiday candles Helping to prepare for the seders There where even a few fami- lies that came to visit their children and made Chabad at UCF their destination for the seders. Looking around at the seder table, one would never guess that these stu- dents may have just gotten to know each other, because the atmosphere is so warm and friendly - much like family! And on top of the grand Pesach seder ex- periences, Chabad at UCF also offered a Passover meal plan so that students en- joyed kosher-for-Pas'sover hot meals throughout the holiday week. A college stu- and Jews in general, to study Talmud. Cathy Swerdlow, Temple Israel Sisterhood program chairwoman, said Anton's own experience studying Talmud is one of the reasons why she wanted to bring the author to the Orlando Jewish community. "Her passion for Talmud, and her passion for 'redis- covering-or discovering it, rather--at a later age," makes Talmud feel moreaccessible, Swerdlow said. "I know many women who have enjoyed her books, and I think it would just enrich other people to hear her speak." FoilowingAnton's remarks at the May 9 Temple Israel Sisterhood event, attendees can mingle with the author at a dessert and coffee reception. Books will be available for sale and signing. The cost of the event is $10 and can be paid at the door. RSVP by Wednesday, May 8, to the Temple Israel Office, 407-647-3055 or office@ tiflorida.org. Deborah Swerdlow is a for- mer Heritage intern currently residing in Washington, D.C. phone lines are constantly jammed with inquiries, it is vital the operational hours are increased to full-time. The charity has earned such good standing within the community that seniors and their families quite literally see it as a lifeline. If you would like to par- ticipate in the golf tourna- ment and be a part of this special da, whether it be to donate, sponsor or play, on either an individual or corporate basis, then contact Ken Davis at 727-798-5354 or khdavis13@yahoo.com or info@jewishpavilion.org.