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Book: Gender and Sacred Textures

Chapter: “Then Queen Esther Daughter of Abihail Wrote”: Gendered Agency and Ritualized Writing in Jewish Scriptural Practice

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.46464


This chapter focuses on how the material form of the Esther scroll and the ritualized practices of copying it reflect changes in how Jews remember the events of Purim. I demonstrate how Purim and writing intersect with contemporary changes in women’s roles in Jewish ritual, as well as new interpretations of the Book of Esther informed by feminist readings and heightened awareness of the relationship between gender and agency.
I examine Esther scrolls made by contemporary female ritual scribes (soferot) who add their own creative marks to the scrolls they copy: Nava Levine-Coren, Avielah Barclay, Jen Taylor Friedman, and Rachel Jackson. These creative touches convey their readings of the biblical text, which magnify women’s perspective and agency.

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