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Congregational Libraries Today reviews Delightful Compendium

February 25, 2009

The year is 1031 in North Africa, and a headstrong young Jewish wornan sets everything in motion when she defies her father and runs off with her Muslim lover. The story plays out over the next twenty-seven years against a background of ferment in the Jewish community and the Muslim world, with faint stirrings from the Christian community north of the Mediterranean.

This is truly a historical novel. Burton Visotzky draws on rich material from a number of sources: the classic rabbinic writings, the stories of the One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, and the Geniza fragments discovered in Egypt a century ago. The story focuses on a time when the Jewish community of North Africa was divided into Rabbanites and Karaites, when the Muslim community in Cairo was coming under pressure, and when Christian Europe was just beginning to stir. Into this mix Visotzky places Karimah, who runs off with her Muslim lover only to be abandoned on the outskirts of Mecca. She joins a band of Bedouin robbers and travels with pirates until finally settling in Kariwan, Tunisia, where she meets Rabbenu Nissim, a rabbinic scholar and a partner in her father's trading ventures. He eventually becomes her husband.

This is a wonderful novel that teaches and entertains.
—Rabbi Louis A. Rieser

(From Congregational Libraries Today, January/February 2009, p.15)

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A Delightful Compendium of Consolation

A Delightful Compendium of Consolation


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