Bergers Book Reviews

The Fruit of Her Hands

Author: Michelle Cameron
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-4391-1822-1
Pages: 448
Price: $25.00

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Sometimes, when we start researching our family tree, we discover an ancestor who makes us proud. When author, Michelle Cameron, found she descended from Rabbi Meir ben Baruch, she decided to learn as much as she could about him, and memorialize him in a novel.

Through the eyes of his fictional wife, Shira, we revisit 13th century Europe, at the rise of anti-Semitism. During this time period, the Talmud was burned, and growing mistrust of the Jewish people caused their cruel persecution and imprisonment. But Shira and her family are strong in their faith and community, and refuse to allow their fears to control them. In the midst of this unrest, we learn what a great and important man Rabbi Meir ben Baruch is in his lifetime.

Blending the history of her ancestor and his fictional family with Jewish faith and custom, The Fruit of Her Hands is a moving story that spans several generations. When we first meet Shira, she’s a young girl. She marries, has children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by the time the story concludes.

Fear of a group of people causes humanity to act in ways that are unfathomable to rational minds. Yet we see behavior like this time and time again. But exeriencing how the Jews were persecuted, first-hand through Shira’s thoughts and memories, reminds us not to judge based on appearances. There’s a lesson for all of us in this remarkable story.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 14, 2009 - Posted by | history

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