Title: The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis
First line: Before Batsheva moved to Memphis, our community was the safest place on earth, close, small, held together like a carefully crocheted sweater.
The arrival of free-spirited Batsheva and her young daughter quickly disrupts life in this tight-knit Orthodox community: she sings too loud at shul, dresses wrong, and doesn't wait to see how others do things; she just acts. She doesn't try to fit in. Instead, she begins studying with the Rabbi's handsome son, Yosef, in the mornings, and teaching art classes at the Jewish school in the afternoons. She asks questions, and soon has the other women questioning things, too, even if only within themselves. It's not her intent, but Batsheva's influence soon ripples through this traditional community...unraveling everything.
"Mark my words, Helen. This is going to be a situation to watch out for."This book is a charming blend of Jewish culture and Southern hospitality. It's a book about women: young and old, widows and wives, mothers and daughters. I liked all of them. Especially Batsheva. I admired her view of religion and how, by keeping kosher and celebrating Shabbos, she seeks to draw closer to God; I also found it interesting how it's this aspect of her character that seems to make the other women most uncomfortable. How they react to Batsheva's presence, and the effect she has on their lives, made me laugh, wince, and at times, even want to cry. It's a thought-provoking read. I loved the humor and the honesty of Mirvis' writing. Most of all, I loved the way this book made me stop and ponder my own life.