"Pirkei Avot," a second-century book of Jewish wisdom, translates to "ethics of the fathers."
Two Portland-based local authors are now coming out with a follow-up text, about 1,900 years later, called "Pirkei Imahot, the Wisdom of Mothers, the Voices of Wisdom."
The book "was written as a result of our own unique experiences as women, mothers, leaders, and teachers in our community, and those of the many women who contributed their own words of wisdom to this book," write co-authors Lois Sussman Shenker and Assistant Rabbi Eve Posen in the book's introduction.
"Prikei Imahot" is a book written by Jewish women, but intended for all audiences. It addresses such wide-reaching issues as authority, friendship, study, diaspora, silence and more. The book's second half is a collection of meditations from women of all ages and experiences, addressing Jewish-specific issues like tzedakah (commonly translated as "charity, justice, or righteousness") and tikkun olam ("repairing the world"), as well as universal ones like justice, mothering and the importance of ethical behavior.
"'Pirkei Avot' still feels real and relevant to our daily lives, perhaps more so than other texts," Posen said. "It reads as an ethical will of sorts, from the great rabbis. Lois and I believed it time to look at what those values have evolved into for today's world, from an entirely female perspective."
A book launch and reception are set for 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 8, at Congregation Neveh Shalom, 2900 S.W. Peaceful Lane, Portland. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information or to purchase the book, visit wisdomofmothers.com. It will also be available on Amazon starting May 1.
Posen and Shenker both hope that "Pirkei Imahot" will add something new to the conversation, and will have a positive influence on readers' lives.
"Either by reading our book or attending a workshop," Shenker said, "if a person just makes one change in her or his course of action, or becomes more mindful, or feels more comfortable with the moral imperative Judaism gives us, we will be satisfied and gratified by the efforts put forth in writing this book and learning from those who contributed to it."