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Sotah
 
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Naomi Ragen
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Sotah

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,561 ratings  ·  210 reviews
Raised under the strict laws of a Jerusalem haredi sect, Dina Reich enters an arranged marriage but is tempted by another man, a transgression that brands her an adulteress and results in her exile to America. Reissue. PW.
Hardcover
Published May 6th 1995 by Random House Value Publishing (first published 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,407)
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Kressel Housman
Jun 03, 2008 Kressel Housman rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: fiction, jewish
I admit that this is an absorbing story, but it's a slanderous portrayal of Ultra-Orthodox Jews. I'm a Hasidic Jew who's living the life, and I can tell you that dating couples are allowed to fall in love, even though they're set up by matchmakers. Husbands are not totally clueless about how women think and regularly talk Torah with their wives. And most of all, the heroine's deportation to America simply would not happen. Naomi Ragen may be a talented writer, but I'll never read anything of her ...more
Jenny Brown
A sotah is a woman accused of adultery and this story is about three sisters in the haredi world of Israel as they are matched off in marriage. The middle daughter is the main character and the one "sotah" refers to. I'm interested enough in the subject matter (the haredi world; not adultery) that I was willing to overlook the choppy writing and lack of depth in the characters. But the ending was so ridiculous and so facile that I actually felt angry at the book for not being better. The charact ...more
Sharon
Sep 09, 2008 Sharon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sharon by: Kristin
Loved this book. Another great suggestion from Kristin. This was a very interesting glimpse into the ultra-orthodox world of the Haredim in modern Jerusalem. I found their lifestyle both fascinating and horrible at the same time. Arranged marriages are still common and accepted and the inequality between the sexes is appaling; and yet, there was something that drew you in to that lifestyle and its quiet complacency (especially when viewed from the eyes of Dina as she arrived in New York). The ch ...more
LouAnn
I loved this book. I was amazed at the differences in culture. I liked when she was in NY and the lady she was working for cut the cord off of the TV. I almost did that when my children were younger. I learned about forgiveness and not judging people and not letting other's opinions make your decisions for you.
Nina Levine
Dina grapples with the constraints of her haredi world, an ultra Orthodox sect of Judaism. The internal tug of war pits her religious and family values and culture against deep yearnings to know more of the world. Denied a marriage for love, she agrees to marry the Judah, a wood worker of repute, and a gentle giant who is smitten with her. She honestly believes she will come to love this man, seeing something deeper in him than mere vision can reveal. The demands of the marriage and family trage ...more
Melissa
Well. Besides the obvious issues I have with the subject (that of what in our Western world feels like oppression & degradation of women) I thought this was an "okay" read. I did get tired of what I perceived as whining and wringing-of-the-hands behaviour, but again that goes back to the culture which I don't know or completely understand. (and by the way, for the record, I beleive that Western women are oppressed and degraded as well in our own culture too).

Michelle mentioned feeling closer
...more
Sadie
As I continue to read books about Orthodox Judiasm it would seem that I would become more accustomed to traditions, ceremonies, customs, etc... I do not. I continue to be startled by cruel behaviors. Adultry is never to be tampered with in any religion but I was glad to see Diana battle for her rights and end up with what seems an acceptable life for her. I was saddend by the outcome of Joan's friendship in Diana's life but as it was pointed out it was probably for the best.
Amy
I enjoyed the view of haredi life in this book, but the writing felt shallow and the plot overly-contrived to fit a too-sunshiney view of Orthodox Judaism. Finishing Sotah was like leaving a Sunday School class where a very well-meaning teacher came up with an illustrative story that was equal parts "lesson" and "warm fuzzy" but did not really grasp the meaning that it intended.
Galit
If you want to understand a diffeent group of people that lives among us I suggest the very interesting story written by Naomi Ragen. The name of the book is called Sotah and its the story of a young haredi girl that comes of age. The story begins with a description of her environment like how the sleeping arrangements of the siblings and the parents in a 2 bed room apartment in Mea Shearim. It tells how she struggled with conforming to the strict rules that everybody there has to follow, and th ...more
Jensa
A very interesting and educational look into the Jewish culture. The story telling was fantastic and I finished with a feeling of enlightenment. I love books that remind me that other worlds exist outside my little sphere.
Nick
This excellent novel seems to me to have what the great old time works of literature have--characters grappling with huge issues that make them question their own life and culture. The author brings dimension and complexity to a world that most of us, even most Jews, have only understood superficially. We sympathize with the main character and appreciate her love for her family even as we cringe at the cultural constrictions that bring her to ruin. My one quibble is that the differences between ...more
Sara
Though the window into the world of this sect of Judaism was interesting, I though the characters where shallowly drawn, and the ending just silly & bodice ripper-like.
Sarah Nelson
So good! I enjoyed this book on several levels. First, it was an education into the lifestyle of Orthodox Jews - and the various groups within orthodoxy - in Jerusalem. Second, it is a study of good and evil, right and wrong, reward and punishment. While most Jewish novels I have read look at these issues against the holocaust, Sotah is Dina's struggle to reconcile these issues while immersed in the most observant form of Judaism and then in the presence of a kind but non-observant Jewish woman ...more
Judy Bullard
Jewish family/customs, etc. A very good read. A great insight into Jewish society and culture.
Robyn
Oy. This book came so close to getting 2 stars from me until the last 150 pages or so. Since it took that long for this book to get good.
I don't know why I didn't put this book down after about 150-200 pages (other than I really wanted to know what happened to Dina and it wasn't SO terrible that I felt I had to stop reading). But what really irked me was that it took Ragen until about page 280 to get into the meat of what the story was about. And then gives the reader only about 150 pages to enj
...more
Jenny
The first few hundred pages were magnificent. I loved the rich imagery--both of Jerusalem (which I, myself, have visited on two occasions and love with a depth beyond description) and the customs of the Ultra-Orthodox Jews living there. People who add an undefinable magic to the city and make it what it is. I am the very most Reform Jew possible but I have the utmost respect for those who devote their lives to study and prayer.

This novel portrayed the characters' beliefs not just from the perspe
...more
Lisa
I had some time this weekend to catch up on my reading and I was only too happy to let my housework suffer in the pursuit of literary advancement.I am not one of these happy-go-lucky chicks who tosses out the 5-star rating like beads at Mardi Gras.I really have to think the book was AMAZING. I was amazed by this book.
I was also amazed at my ability to fully grasp this book, since it is about Orthodox Jews in Jeruselum and I am a lapsed Catholic from Ohio.Although I do have a long-standing love f
...more
Michael
Dina Reich is a beautiful young woman living in Jerusalem accused of the most unforgivable sin;adultery. She was always the gentle and fragile one in her family,and was always bonded with her close relatives. Dvorah her trusting sister has always stuck by her through the thick and thin and often confided in her about what was disturbing her peace and shared her crucial advice about marriage and life. There have been many relationships that Dina has started and not finished, because of her family ...more
Heather
This is a 4+ star book for me. It could have been a 5 star, but it fell a bit short for me.
First off, I would like to say that this author is AMAZING. Her writing just sucked me in and kept me hooked. I felt like I was really there in Jerusalem living the life of this family. I learned so much about this religion and community. It was fascinating to see the similarities and differences between their religious beliefs and my own LDS Christian beliefs. Their struggle felt real to me.
This author wa
...more
Kristen
Consider this a 4.5

From the book jacket:

"Sotah is the story of beautiful, fragile Dina Reich, a young woman in Jerusalem's ultra religious haredi enclave who is accused of the community's most unforgivable sin: adultery. Although Dina was brought up to be an obedient daughter and dutiful wife, she has yearnings -- for knowledge, for romance, for excitement -- that she knows her life will never satisfy. In her willing, but arranged marriage, Dina finds these deeply repressed passions increasingly
...more
Jane
At first, this ultra-Orthodox setting was so foreign that it felt like science fiction, but it grew on me. Many rules and customs reminded me of Grandma Sara, who asked her grandfather why he washed his hands in the bowl for the Sabbath meal when she knew he had just washed them at the sink. "This we do to remember", he told her, reminding her that there was a time when water to wash was rare or not available at all. He also was a man who would have loved to have been able to spend all day study ...more
Whitney
This was a very interesting book in more than one way. It took a while for me to get into it, but once I did I could not put it down. My particular version was nearly 500 pages and I read it pretty much one sitting. Ragen has an amazing way of utilizing metaphors to explain some of the most complicated feelings within women and life. I admit, I do not know much about the strict orthodox Jewish way of life, yet this book did a decent job of opening up how dedicated their faith is. Despite the cul ...more
Shannon
I very much enjoyed this story. The characters, though at times simple, caught my attention and I often found myself wondering what would happen in the book as I went about my day. But one must remember that this is a story. Elements are created. Truths are exaggerated. This is a work of fiction by someone who does not live this way. I feel that the author was not using orthodox Judaism to demean the belief system, but to make a point about religion in general concerning gopsel versus personal d ...more
Jen
This one is about an Orthodox Jewish woman living in Jerusalem struggling to make sense of the world she lives in. She struggles to make the reality of the world fit the fantasy image she’s always been told the world is. The girl in this book is told to deny herself of everything she’s ever felt or wanted out of life. She’s told to form herself into a perfect model of everyone else and her individuality is not encouraged. She is told that this is the only way to show her devotion to her religion ...more
Lauren
This book was pretty interesting. I picked it up because I wanted to learn more about the life of ultra-orthodox Jewish women. Although I am Jewish, their lives could not be more different from mine. Naomi Ragen, the author, is Orthodox herself and seemed very knowledgeable about the community.

The book centers on Dinah, the second daughter of a family of modest means. In the ultra-orthodox community, girls' go through arranged marriages in their late teens. The best "catches" among the men are
...more
Julie
This book might become one of my top ten favorites books. It was a perfect book. One I will be thinking about for a few days, one I can actually bring up topics to discuss with my husband. (And book club members-I think we should add this to next years list).

The first 150 pages were a little slow and it felt like a lesson into the Jewish Religion--which I thought I knew a least a little bit about-but I realized not that much. But then it got so I didn't want to put it down. It's one of those wh
...more
Angie Taylor
This was such an interesting book that explored the life of orthodox Jews in Jerusalem in the early 90's. I was fascinated by the strict way of religious every day living portrayed, and easily compared and contrasted it to my own religious upbringing. I sympathized with the girls of the family as the expected marrying age came upon them and they were married to men who they didn't really know or love, but with whom they were expected to care for, share intimacies with, and eventually bare childr ...more
Lani
Hmm. This isn't quite trashy enough to be 'romance', but is definitely poorly written chicklit. But! It is about a culture I'm not familiar with, and I am a sucker, so I read it and enjoyed it. Despite the often ham-fisted writing and embarrassingly cliched characters.

I read some other reviews that were really angry about the portrayal of Orthodox Jews, but I wasn't left with a negative feeling about the culture. I don't know enough about Judaism, let alone this particular side of it to judge th
...more
Nadia
Great book that describes life in the jewish ulltra orthodox community of Mea Shearim in jerusalem. I felt the book gave a very balanced view of this community showing both its unique strengths and many flaws. The story centres around the experiences of dinah and her family. Dina marries one of the men that the matchmaker introduces her to. While the man happens to be very gentle and kind, and truly cares for Dina, she is frustrated by his silences, his awkwardness and timidity. She thus gets in ...more
Scott Burton
This is not a book for the religiously faint of heart. Though the author is a devout Jew (some Hasidic Jews would disagree, no doubt) she has a pointedly critical view of extremist religion. How easy it is to slip from zealous to extreme! I was once threatened with stoning in the orthodox section of Jerusalem. Having spent a little time in Jerusalem, I enjoyed the setting.
I appreciated her portrayal of Dineh, a devout woman torn by the restricting cultural expectations and her own more open des
...more
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Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist and playwright who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. She has published seven internationally best-selling novels, and is the author of a hit play. Naomi also publishes a regular column that deals with Jewish subjects, especially Israel.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/naomir...
More about Naomi Ragen...
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