In Her Voice
An Illuminated Book of Prayers for Jewish Women
By Enya Tamar Kesher
Maggid Books, 2010, 75 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - January 31, 2011
Ancient Jews and non-Jews decorated their Bibles and payer books with magnificent colorful illustrations, clothing the significant and beautiful with what is picturesque, pleasing, and important. The noted contemporary Israeli artist Enya Tamar Kesher decorated twenty-eight prayers that focus on a woman's life cycle with artistic calligraphy and gold leaf color illumination. There is one prayer for each event in the woman's life cycle. Kesher tells us that she felt that the number twenty-eight is significant; it is "the number of days of the lunar cycle (and) the span of our cycle of fertility, our close physical bond with Creation." Jewish tradition encourages hiddur mitzvah, adorning and beautifying Jewish ceremonies. Kesher obeys with this volume, making it a nice table top book.
The first plat is a paper cut listing the 115 women mentioned in the Bible. This is followed by the famous eshet chayil, "a woman of valor," the twenty-two verse biblical poem that was introduced as a Friday recitation by mystics to show their regard for God, but many Jewish males recite it today on Friday before the festive evening meal, seeing it as a tribute to the women who prepared the Sabbath meal and who made the Jewish home such a delight. But besides expected prayers, such as for candle lighting at the outset of Shabbat and the women's havdalah at its conclusion, there are others that readers will find very interesting and even thought provoking, as a prayer for women whose husbands leave them without giving them a Jewish divorce, a bride's prayer, and prayers for her mother, pregnancy, raising children, while giving birth, and for her husband "May you merit a long life and may I merit to live with you forever, together united in love from now until the end of days."