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The pampered daughter of a wealthy Hasidic businessman, Batsheva Ha-Levi grows up in the affluent suburbs of Los Angeles. But everything changes when she turns eighteen and finds that her loving father has made a secret vow which will shatter her life, forcing her to marry a man she hardly knows and sending her to the exotic, golden city of Jerusalem. On her wedding day, she enters a strange and foreign world steeped in tradition and surrounded by myth. Shackled by ancient rules, she soon understands that to survive she will have no choice but to fight for her freedom, to reconcile her own need to live in the modern world with her ancestral obligations, and to choose between the three men who vie for her body, her soul, and her love.

Now a classic listed among the one hundred most important Jewish books of all time*, Jephte’s Daughter is bestselling author Naomi Ragen’s beloved first novel. With poignancy and insight, it takes readers on a groundbreaking and unforgettable journey inside the hidden world of women in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

*100 Essential Books For Jewish Readers, Rabbi Daniel B. Sync and Lindy Frenkel Kanter

From Publishers Weekly

Abraham Ha-Levi, a wealthy Los Angeles businessman, is the sole heir to a 300-year-old Hasidic dynasty. Believing himself unworthy to take on the mantle of leadership, he makes a solemn vow to God to continue the distinguished lineage through his only child, Batsheva. When he marries her off at 18 to a young Talmudic scholar, Isaac Harshen, they live in the ultra-fanatic religious quarters of Meah Shearim in Jerusalem. Beautiful and intelligent, Batsheva struggles valiantly to be a true daughter of Israel, obedient to her husband and the laws of Hasidic life. But her inquisitive nature and desire for secular knowledge (her favorite books are Anna Karenina and Women in Love ) challenge Isaac''s narrow view of her role as wife and mother. When his abusiveness threatens their young son''s well-being, she makes a dramatic escape, winding up in London, where she falls in love with a man studying for the priesthood. Batsheva''s Jewish faith survives her spiritual and intellectual quests, and she returns to Jerusalem to confront Isaac, demanding freedom for herself and her child. Ragen''s impeccable knowledge of Jewish law and lore allows us a deep understanding of orthodox Jewish life from a woman''s point of view. Despite eloquent writing and vivid characters, however, her first novel falters under convenient plot machinations that compromise the full development of its religious and emotional themes. 100,000 first printing.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The world of Orthodox Judaism is lovingly portrayed in this first novel describing the conflicts of Batsheva Ha-Levi. Trapped in an arranged marriage to Isaac, a cruel, hypocritical zealot, Batsheva flees the Hasidic community of Jerusalem for the sophisticated world of London. Yet despite the myriad temptations in her new life, she refuses to compromise her faith, even for a new love. Ragen presents the cloistered Hasidic community in all its contradictory aspects: the rigidity of its piety; the serenity of its religiosity; the fanaticism of some adherents; and the wisdom of its great leaders. With its exotic ambience and attractive heroine, this is sure to be popular. Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
245 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Constance Gabin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Worthy Read by Naomi Ragen.
Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2019
A fabulous read with an unusual title that required me to research in order to understand. Naomi Ragen has written dozens of books with a Jewish historical back ground and/or back story. Although I am Jewish, I learned a lot about the ultra orthodox who live in Measharim,... See more
A fabulous read with an unusual title that required me to research in order to understand. Naomi Ragen has written dozens of books with a Jewish historical back ground and/or back story. Although I am Jewish, I learned a lot about the ultra orthodox who live in Measharim, Jerusalem and had visited this part of the city many years ago, experiencing much of what Ragen describes. A worthy read, well written, and whose characters are realistic. Amazingly, this is her first book. I look forward to reading the rest, one at a time .
2 people found this helpful
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K. M.
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting, but flawed
Reviewed in the United States on November 24, 2018
It is heartening to read a novel where the heroine is religious and keeps the Law out of love for God rather than slavish following of inane rules (and many of the rules ARE inane today, but if they make you think of who you are and how much you love God, they''re important.... See more
It is heartening to read a novel where the heroine is religious and keeps the Law out of love for God rather than slavish following of inane rules (and many of the rules ARE inane today, but if they make you think of who you are and how much you love God, they''re important. If they force you to do things you think are stupid, they''re inane and you should be looking elsewhere for spiritual fulfillment). There was a good comparison of the truly observant and the merely observant and the book itself was entertaining. But please, giving Batsheva a love interest named David in her situation? Really? It''s little things like that and the totally ludicrous ending that lowered the review to three stars. Big picture, it''s a nice look at orthodox community and the disparate people who comprise various communities. When you get into the detail, the narrative falls apart.
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Agnes Shapiro
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loved it...
Reviewed in the United States on April 27, 2014
Ms Ragen has done it again.. Another of her stories about religious women and the obstacles they climb to adjust or change their lives. Batsheva was a free spirit who thought she could take over the world. She had big dreams that also included marrying and starting a... See more
Ms Ragen has done it again.. Another of her stories about religious women and the obstacles they climb to adjust or change their lives. Batsheva was a free spirit who thought she could take over the world. She had big dreams that also included marrying and starting a family. But she was not prepared for the arranged marriage her father made her; her overbearing husband who felt he possessed her and all her belongings; and when she could not take it anymore - well, read the book....she does the unimaginable, takes it to the next level and disengages herself and son from her family.....only then does she find peace, love, kindness, and a new life for herself....but finds this can only be completed by returning to the old life and settling a few things....excellent and well written as usual. I would have given it 5 stars except there were many parts, while beautiful and descriptive about the country of Israel....seemed long and moved the book along at a slower pace than I would have liked.
2 people found this helpful
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MAF
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very good read
Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2015
Naomi Ragen is an excellent story teller. She brings her characters to life and let''s them present themselves as very real people with good and bad traits. She presents a view into a world so that one sees all sides. I would have given this book 5 stars, but it lacked... See more
Naomi Ragen is an excellent story teller. She brings her characters to life and let''s them present themselves as very real people with good and bad traits. She presents a view into a world so that one sees all sides. I would have given this book 5 stars, but it lacked good editing. The first part rambled so much that if I was not already aware of Naomi Ragens good story telling, I would have given up. The last half of the book was less rambling and it is worth wading through the first part, to savor the good story. This book is well worth the struggle, but future releases should be better edited.
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Baird-Greene
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An Enthralling Novel by a Favorite Author!
Reviewed in the United States on August 14, 2021
I have loved all the books I''ve read by Naomi Ragen. This is her first novel and a great read that quickly pulls the reader in. The characters are well-developed and the storyline keeps your interest throughout.
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Daintymiss1957
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Favorite Author Already
Reviewed in the United States on January 17, 2016
Such a well written book! Naomi Ragen ranks as one of my favorite authors...and I''ve only read one of her books! This book as an awesome plot, twists and turns with some surprises. She describes the emotions her characters feel so well! It''s as if I was standing in the same... See more
Such a well written book! Naomi Ragen ranks as one of my favorite authors...and I''ve only read one of her books! This book as an awesome plot, twists and turns with some surprises. She describes the emotions her characters feel so well! It''s as if I was standing in the same room with them and I also felt the same emotions. At times the story has you so riveted to it that you cannot put it down. You must know what is going to happen. It is a wonderful story. And believable as well. I just borrowed a second novel by her through KindleUnlimited!
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bbfan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Jephte''s Daughter
Reviewed in the United States on March 12, 2011
This is a wonderful book, written by a very talented author. I have enjoyed Chiam Potok''s books as well, as they also give me a glimpse into the Hassidic world. Near the end of the book I felt uncomfortable as the author began to deal with Christianity. I am a... See more
This is a wonderful book, written by a very talented author. I have enjoyed Chiam Potok''s books as well, as they also give me a glimpse into the Hassidic world.
Near the end of the book I felt uncomfortable as the author began to deal with Christianity. I am a Christian and do not see my faith at all as the author described it. However, I read on, and really appreciated seeing how a Jewish person sees my faith. Very enlightening. I have also read The Saturday Wife, years ago, and did not realize till I was nearly finished that it was the same author. I will look for more of her books. I believe that to know the scriptures (both old and new testaments) gives added enjoyment to the reading of this book.
2 people found this helpful
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Carol D.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
One of the most outstanding books I have read depicting ...
Reviewed in the United States on June 17, 2016
One of the most outstanding books I have read depicting the life of a young Jewish woman and the lack of choice she had growing up in her strict Jewish family not only in her youth under her parental control, but also in her married life under the absolute control of her... See more
One of the most outstanding books I have read depicting the life of a young Jewish woman and the lack of choice she had growing up in her strict Jewish family not only in her youth under her parental control, but also in her married life under the absolute control of her husband. She was totally subjugated to their will despite her wishes. This is a novel of the heroine''s strength and courage and finding her way against all odds.
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Top reviews from other countries

Marianne
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Actually I haven''t read it all yet!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 26, 2014
This arrived in practically pristine condition and cost very little. A bargain. I have only read one book by this author before but I loved it (the Sacrifice of Tamar) so my interest in her books was aroused. What I have read so far is good and I am certain I will enjoy it...See more
This arrived in practically pristine condition and cost very little. A bargain. I have only read one book by this author before but I loved it (the Sacrifice of Tamar) so my interest in her books was aroused. What I have read so far is good and I am certain I will enjoy it to the end. I was very impressed that it didn''t arrive battered and well read.The spine of the book looked as though the book hadn''t been opened! I will order more by this author.
This arrived in practically pristine condition and cost very little. A bargain. I have only read one book by this author before but I loved it
(the Sacrifice of Tamar) so my interest in her books was aroused. What I have read so far is good and I am certain I will enjoy it to the end. I was very impressed that it didn''t arrive battered and well read.The spine of the book looked as though the book hadn''t been opened! I will order more by this author.
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Karin Skãâld
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
messy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 18, 2020
It was quite messy to read. I liked her other books far more.
It was quite messy to read. I liked her other books far more.
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Newlindy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 3, 2014
Good read and may read it again.
Good read and may read it again.
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Betty
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Buch hat mich fasziniert und geprägt
Reviewed in Germany on October 14, 2013
Ich habe dieses Buch kurz nachdem wir aus Israel zurück waren gelesen, da uns der Jerusalemer Stadteil "Mea Shearim" doch sehr beeindruckt hatte. Man fühlt sich in eine andere Welt versetzt, Jahrhunderte zurück!!! Zur gleichen Zeit gab es auch eine Ausstellung mit...See more
Ich habe dieses Buch kurz nachdem wir aus Israel zurück waren gelesen, da uns der Jerusalemer Stadteil "Mea Shearim" doch sehr beeindruckt hatte. Man fühlt sich in eine andere Welt versetzt, Jahrhunderte zurück!!! Zur gleichen Zeit gab es auch eine Ausstellung mit vielen Animationen im Museum in Jerusalem, welche einen sehr guten Einblick in das Leben der ultra-orthodoxen Juden gewährte. Die Geschichte ist so wohl nicht passiert, doch sie gibt einen sehr guten Einblick in das Leben dieser Juden.
Ich habe dieses Buch kurz nachdem wir aus Israel zurück waren gelesen, da uns der Jerusalemer Stadteil "Mea Shearim" doch sehr beeindruckt hatte. Man fühlt sich in eine andere Welt versetzt, Jahrhunderte zurück!!!
Zur gleichen Zeit gab es auch eine Ausstellung mit vielen Animationen im Museum in Jerusalem, welche einen sehr guten Einblick in das Leben der ultra-orthodoxen Juden gewährte.
Die Geschichte ist so wohl nicht passiert, doch sie gibt einen sehr guten Einblick in das Leben dieser Juden.
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Viviana Jablonka
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Gifted author
Reviewed in France on July 13, 2014
It is such passionate, deep insight by t of human nature, that you can''t put the book down until you "drank" the last line.
It is such passionate, deep insight by t of human nature, that you can''t put the book down until you "drank" the last line.
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