This article was first published as “Sorceress from the Talmud springs to life in Anton’s latest” in JWeekly.
This is the kind of fascinating and arcane information that author Maggie Anton learned while conducting research for her latest novel, “Rav Hisda’s Daughter,” in which she imagines the life of the unnamed woman mentioned most frequently in the central text of rabbinic Judaism.
Anton will tell how she went about bringing to life this exceptional woman — the sorceress daughter of a great rabbi of the Talmud — during talks at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco and Congregation Beth El in Berkeley.
The author — known for her ability to blend Jewish history, esoteric Jewish law and a strong feminist sensibility — faced new challenges in writing this book. For her popular and award-winning “Rashi’s Daughters” trilogy set in
11th-century France, Anton was able to access archival records of France’s Jewish community dating back to the early Middle Ages.
But this time, to animate a young female sorceress in 3rd-century Persian-ruled Babylonia, Anton had to do most of her digging in the Talmud itself, including many obscure passages about magic and incantations. This kind of work was not completely new to the author, a former chemist who has been studying Talmud intensively for many years, but it did amount to a more difficult research process.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.