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Friday, August 28, 2015

The Marrying of Chani Kauffman by Eve Harris

I loved this book.  Maybe I finished it in a day because it is steeped in Orthodox Judaism, but maybe not.  There are two relationships that the book revolves around.  The first is the marriage of Chani Kauffamn, who at 19 is closing in on spinsterhood.  She started off her marriage search being sought after, but after a number of rejections her suitors start to reject her.  That spells trouble not just for her but also for her numerous younger sisters.  So when Baruch shows interest in her, she is motivated.  While their time together is highly regulated, they do get a glimpse of each others personalities, and to the reader it seems like a good match.

Baruch's mother couldn't disagree more.  She makes a point of inserting herself into the process in a way that is out of keeping with the cultural rules of courtship and she does two things in the process.  She gives Chani some power over her because she wants it to be a secret, and she shows her hand.  Chani doesn't have to pretend to like her future mother-in-law.  She just has to woe Baruch.

The other couple int he book are a rabbi and his wife from Chani and Baruch's community.  They started off their lives together in Jerusalem and they didn't always follow the rules.  Now the rabbi is choking his marriage with his increasing piousness and while he knows that it is killing his marriage, he cannot stop himself.  While one relationship blooms the other is dying on the vine.  Very well written.

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