Osnat and Her Dove: The True Story of the World’s First Female Rabbi

Levine Querido. Feb. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781646140374.
Gr 2-4–This loose biography relates the little known story of the first female rabbi, Osnat Barzani, a Kurdish Jew whose knowledge of the Torah and leadership of a yeshiva in ancient Iraq broke gender barriers. In language reminiscent of a fairy tale, a child named Osnat is born in 1590—“almost five hundred years ago, when almost everyone believed in miracles.” Born into a family with no sons, and surrounded by books, she convinces her father, a rabbi in the yeshiva, to teach her to read. As Osnat (and her knowledge and reputation) grows, her father intervenes to arrange a marriage conducive to her continued study of Hebrew scriptures. After her father and husband die, Osnat receives a vision in a dream from her father to assume leadership of the yeshiva. Legends of Osnat, such as her healing of her pet dove and of the sick, as well as a supernatural intervention during a fire at a synagogue, are included. There is an author’s note, and while there is no glossary, words such as davul and kubbah are clearly understood in context. Gouache illustrations with mostly full-page backgrounds of blue, red and gold depict Osnat’s tale, and include religious symbols such as a dove (denoting peace) and the number seven (considered a perfect number in Judaism).
VERDICT A vibrant life story, with imagined conversations and brilliant illustrations, that will find a home in every collection.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing