Mother’s Day Gift Idea

I get really good gifts while sitting shiva. Last time I got jewelry, and a bunch of books, and this time a friend of my parents left me a copy of A Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book, edited by Aliza Lavie. jewish_woman__s_prayer_book.jpg

Normally, this is the kind of thing that makes me gag, because it’s typically 7000% more religious than I’m interested in being, and comes with shlocky Artscroll commentary about how the most fulfilling thing any woman can do is give birth. Blech. But this book is different. Aside from being beautifully bound and printed, the scope of the book is remarkable. It has what you would expect—prayers about getting married, having children, lighting candles and taking challah—but also dozens of beautiful and obscure prayers written for other occasions, including a prayer for a son serving in the army, a paschal prayer, a prayer for removing the pittam from the Etrog, Queen Esther’s Plea, prayer for an unhappy wife, and something called, “The Supplication of the Mothers for the Rebuilding of the Temple.”

Additionally, the prayers come from all over the world, not just the Ashkenazi tradition.  The book includes a tahdid, a North African traditional celebration of motherhood in which the new mother’s relatives gather in her home and recite liturgical poems and songs meant to ward off the evil eye. There’s also an excerpt from a Haggadah written by a woman in Auschwitz.

When I first opened the book to flip through it I opened right to the Prayer for Single Women (Eema, is that you?) and there are great sections on Bnot Mitzvah, Illness, and Loss and Bereavement. I would say that this is a great gift for a bat mitzvah girl, but I think it’s likely to sit on a shelf and get dusty if given to a 12-year-old. What this is, is an excellent gift for Mother’s Day (only a month and a half away) or your mom’s birthday.

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