'Retelling Genesis' review
As Simchat Torah approaches, Genesis begins anew, “Retelling Genesis,” the new book by Barry Louis Polisar, gives a timely fresh perspective on 13 stories in the Torah’s first book. Each story gives a voice to many secondary characters whose perspectives are overlooked in the original Bible stories.
Polisar offers the thoughts and feelings of many female characters: Eve, Noah’s wife, Lot’s daughters, Hagar, Zilpah and Bilhah (Jacob’s handmaidens), and Dinah. He also explores what the silent Isaac thought about his near-sacrifice, what Cain thinks about his mark, and ponderings by Esau, Laban, and Joseph’s brothers.
Readers who know the original biblical text will pick up on the poetic references to those passages. For those who don’t, “Retelling Genesis” can serve as a juicy introduction to Bible stories they may consider dry and lifeless.
Polisar, who was raised in a secular Jewish home, started going to the Saturday services at Sha’are Tefila Conservative congregation when his children entered Hebrew school. That led to curiosity about the Torah portions and joining a weekly Torah study class with the rabbi. He has wrestled with these stories and the questions they raise for over a decade.
He’s also the author of “Telling The Story: A Passover Haggadah Explained.” Polisar has a four-decades-long career writing books, and recording and performing his songs for children throughout the U.S., Europe and Canada.
The slim paperback is illustrated with full-color drawings by Barry’s wife Roni. The book is available for $7.95 through bookstores, online retailers such as Amazon.com and at http://www.BarryLou.com.
Gail Rubin is president of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue of New Mexico.