Chanah’s Voice

A rabbi wrestles with gender, commandment, and the women’s mitzvot of baking, bathing and brightening

by Haviva Ner-David


In stock (can be backordered)

About this book

In her first book, Life on the Fringes, Haviva Ner-David described her quest to become an Orthodox rabbi, to serve God the same way men traditionally did. Now, Rabbi Ner-David tunes in to an aspect of God she hadn’t heard before, the voice of Chanah.

Chanah, the Biblical mother of Samuel, was considered by tradition to have invented prayer. Her name is also an acronym for the three commandments given to women: Challah, the taking of an offering from baking dough; Niddah, separation during menstruation followed by immersion; and Hadlakat HaNer, lighting the Sabbath candles.

In this spiritual memoir, Rabbi Ner-David explores the spirituality of domestic life while struggling with the strictures of systematized Jewish law. Combining soul-searching honesty and deep Jewish knowledge, Chanah’s Voice is the compelling voice of a new generation of Jewish feminism.

Advance Praise:

“A beautiful example of how to wrestle with God, Torah and one’s self. Ner-David’s story overflows with her knowledge of our past, awareness of our present and hope for our future, both as Jews and as human beings.”
Brad Hirschfield, author of You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right

“Haviva Ner-David is among the leading ‘refusers’ of our time—refusing to choose between traditional Jewish practice and feminism, refusing to be cowed by those who cannot comprehend a woman ordained by an Orthodox rabbi.
“Chanah’s Voice marks a new and important phase in her defiance of expectation and boundary. Here, the iconoclastic halachic feminist turns to the most traditional of Jewish women’s mitzvot, and finds not the bromides of hearth and home, but new challenges, new insights, and, at times, new theological innovations. This is a deceptively simple book, which is to say, not simple at all. Read it and have your horizons expanded.”
Jay Michaelson, author of Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism