Women come boldly to the fore in biblical literature from the Persian period, which was pivotal in the formation of the Hebrew Bible and a time of reconstruction of Jewish life under Persian imperial rule. Women are prominent in many of these writings, which make up the Ketuvim, third division of the Hebrew Bible, with the book of Esther as one of the most dramatic examples. Eskenazi’s research compares the representations of women in the Ketuvim with women’s lives in the ancient contemporaneous world, revealing the rethinking about women and gender that appear in these works.

About the Speaker: TAMARA COHN ESKENAZI, Ph.D. is Professor of Bible at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. She is the first woman to have been appointed to the Rabbinical Faculty in HUC’s long history (beginning in 1875). She is the winner of The Jewish Book of the Year Award for her role as Editor of The Torah: A Women’s Commentary (with Andrea L. Weiss, 2008), and The Jewish Book Award in Women’s Studies for her JPS Bible Commentary: Ruth (with Tikva Frymer-Kensky, 2012). Her other books include In an Age of Prose: A Literary Approach to Ezra- Nehemiah. Recently she received an NEH Fellowship for her work on women in the Persian Period.