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The Fruit of Her Hands

The Fruit of Her Hands

The Story of Shira of Ashkenaz

  • reading group guide

Based on the life of the author’s thirteenth-century ancestor, Meir ben Baruch of Rothenberg, a renowed Jewish scholar of medieval Europe, this is the richly dramatic fictional story of Rabbi Meir’s wife, Shira, a devout but rebellious woman who preserves her religious traditions as she and her family witness the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

Raised by her widowed rabbi father and a Christian nursemaid in Normandy, Shira is a free-spirited, inquisitive girl whose love of learning shocks the community. When Shira’s father is arrested by the local baron intent on enforcing the Catholic Church’s strictures against heresy, Shira fights for his release and encounters two men who will influence her life profoundly—an inspiring Catholic priest and Meir ben Baruch, a brilliant scholar. In Meir, Shira finds her soulmate.

Married to Meir in Paris, Shira blossoms as a wife and mother, savoring the intellectual and social challenges that come with being the wife of a prominent scholar. After witnessing the burning of every copy of the Talmud in Paris, Shira and her family seek refuge in Germany. Yet even there they experience bloody pogroms and intensifying anti-Semitism. With no safe place for Jews in Europe, they set out for Israel only to see Meir captured and imprisoned by Rudolph I of Hapsburg. As Shira weathers heartbreak and works to find a middle ground between two warring religions, she shows her children and grandchildren how to embrace the joys of life, both secular and religious.

Vividly bringing to life a period rarely covered in historical fiction, this multi-generational novel will appeal to readers who enjoy Maggie Anton’s Rashi’s Daughters, Brenda Rickman Vantrease’s The Illuminator, and Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book.
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  • Gallery Books | 
  • 448 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476754635 | 
  • July 2013
List Price $26.99
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Michelle Cameron: The Fruit of Her Hands

A thirteenth-century historical novel about a rabbi's wife who perseveres amid rising anti-Semitism in Europe.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Fruit of Her Hands includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Michelle Cameron. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



Introduction

The Fruit of Her Hands details the life of Shira, a rabbi’s wife who perseveres amid rising anti-Semitism in thirteenth-century Europe. Raised by her widowed father and a Christian nursemaid in Normandy, Shira is a free-spirited, inquisitive girl whose love of learning shocks the community. Her life changes radically when her father remarries in the hope of gaining a male heir and a handsome scholar with radical views, Nicholas Donin, comes to study with her father. Donin tries to capture Shira’s heart, but her father will not allow her to marry such a firebrand. When Shira’s father is arrested by the local baron intent on enforcing the Catholic Church’s strictures against heresy, Shira fights for his release and encounters two men who will influence her life profoundly: an inspiring Catholic priest and Meir ben Baruch, a brilliant scholar who will become her husband and soulmate.

Married to Meir and living in Paris, Shira blossoms as a wife and mother, savoring th see more

About the Author

Michelle Cameron
Peter Vidor

Michelle Cameron

Michelle Cameron lived in Israel for fourteen years and served in the Israeli army. She works for an interactive media company and lives in Chatham, NJ with her husband and two sons.

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