Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy” as Want to Read:
Yentl the Yeshiva Boy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Yentl the Yeshiva Boy

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  458 ratings  ·  33 reviews

Recognizing that Yentyl seems to have the soul and disposition of a man, her father studies the Torah and other holy books with her. When he dies, Yentyl feels that she no longer has a reason to remain in the village, and so, late one night, she cuts off her hair, dresses as a young man, and sets out to find a yeshiva where she can continue her studies and live secretly as

Hardcover, 58 pages
Published December 1st 1983 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 1983)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Yentl the Yeshiva Boy, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Natalie I found it second hand. I can't WAIT to read it!! I'm in the middle of a few books right now, but I want to start it as soon as possible. I will let y…moreI found it second hand. I can't WAIT to read it!! I'm in the middle of a few books right now, but I want to start it as soon as possible. I will let you know what I think when I'm done!! :)
Hmm...well, we own the soundtrack...I could always play it while I read the book ;)

Okay, I just finished the book!! It was really enjoyable. However, since I came from years of watching the movie, I feel like my view of it is skewed slightly. Instead of saying to the movie "That's not how the book did this scene!!" I am going backwards, thinking while reading, "That's not how it happened in the movie..." But the book came first, so the book is always right.
There were some differences between the movie and the book; I think the movie may have taken some things out to make it less complicated. The only thing that bothered me was the ending. I was left wanting more. But then again, I was a firm believer in Yentl and Avigdor overcoming their differences, marrying, and continuing to study again. But I guess it just wasn't meant to be, in the book OR movie :((less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  458 ratings  ·  33 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Yentl the Yeshiva Boy
Oct 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
"Yentl—you have the soul of a man."

"So why was I born a woman?"

"Even Heaven makes mistakes."

There was no doubt about it, Yentl was unlike any of the girls in Yanev—tall, thin, bony, with small breasts and narrow hips. On Sabbath afternoons, when her father slept, she would dress up in his trousers, his fringed garment, his silk coat, his skullcap, his velvet hat, and study her reflection in the mirror. She looked like a dark, handsome young man.
So Yentl is a Jewish girl from a Polish
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Its a fun little short story. I recently watched the movie Yentl again for the first time since I was a little girl (a little yeshiva girl, actually). I took for granted that I could freely pursue a Jewish education and study Torah. I disliked my yeshiva and struggled academically. I wound up abandoning my Judaism in my late teens, and rediscovering it again in my late 20's. Now that I'm 40, in an interfaith marriage and raising a child, I have embraced Unitarian Universalism, which allows me to ...more
Abi (The Knights Who Say Book)
So glad I've finally read the original story! I've seen Yentl the movie-musical several times, and of course there's so much gender play to unpack there, you could watch it a hundred times and have something new to talk about each time. But reading the story is a whole new area to analyze. It's so much less detailed in many areas (of course, the movie has to flesh it out a lot to get it to two hours), but in some places has details that were totally excised from the movie (all the women in town ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
I just re-watched the movie, Yentl, which I love. I looked up the screenwriting and found the short story. What a radical story! I love the movie for its complexity, the music (of course) and Yentl's desire to learn and develop a personal relationship with God. There is so much complexity displayed over divine male and female roles. The short story was told in a no-nonsense way, with very minimal characterization and different motives (more selfish) than in the movie version. Interesting read. ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I snuck the Barbra Streisand movie past my parents (g-d knows how, I have no idea) when I was 12-13 ish, and it was Formative for me as a baby transmasculine NB, so this was nostalgic for me. I definitely read it with a forgiving eye, seeing as it was written in the 60s. It has a couple of key failings that aren't terribly out of the ordinary for its age: the queer characters' endings are bittersweet at best, and Singer refers to Anshel as "she" throughout the book.

That said, where the Streisan
Feb 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Had a "driveway moment" outside of Target with an interview on NPR about an adaptation of Yentl as a new musical, and how the actual story was very different than the Streisand musical film (and that Singer hated the Streisand version, anyway).

This was a quick read, and I ripped through it in an evening. It was at once touching and also held me (the reader) at arms length. Interesting questions of gender are explored here, with Anschel (Yentl's name for herself as a yeshiva student) still being
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: older children and parents reading with them
This is a great story that tells a story of what it was like to grow up as a girl in a Jewish culture where she was expected to marry and have kids and nurture them, rather than study and discuss religion with the men. She would rather follow a spiritual journey, so she cuts off her hair, dons her father's clothes and leaves her town to find a yeshiva where she can (as a boy) follow her dream, but only by breaking religious laws. This book also has marvelous woodcut illustrations that help to "a ...more
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Once you say "A," you must say "B." Thoughts lead to words, words lead to deeds. Reb Alter Vishkower gave his consent to the match.

I.B. Singer is gentle with us. We are a little scared for what might happen, but we read on and we are not wounded.

This remains a great little story, nominally about gender, but actually about the tragedy of the human condition, in which we can see realities that cannot become real. Sometimes lovers miss forever. Sometimes there is no true happiness to be had, only
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, jewish
Sweat is it about Singer that always saves him from a Fiddler on the Roof sentimentality? There is always a perverse lightning crack of genius running through his books. They get creepy around the edges. I like that in a writer. The characters behave in unexpected ways; I get the feeling they surprise the author from time to time. They are that alive.
Nov 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2021
Mmmmm that nonbinary+trans shtetl energy!! It's really astonishing -- though perhaps it shouldn't be -- how concisely and sympathetically and PRECISELY the language around nbness and transness mimics current discourses on those topics. Hella misogyny, though, unsurprising. The woodcuts were also lovely. ...more
Pedro Garrido
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
papa can you hear me?
Debbie Massry
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Short and troubled story, I don’t know what to think of it.
It was ok on the first half with human emotion and taking you to the time and place, but the other half I didn’t like at all.
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cultural
I love to learn, so the restricted life of a Jewish woman would be very hard for me. This portrayal a a girl who wants to learn, was right up my alley.
Sep 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I guess I'm the only one that thinks Barbra got it wrong... ...more
Jun 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a REALLY quick read. I have loved the music in this movie since I was little. The older I get, the more I understand the lyrics and the more I love it. That is why I wanted to read the book the movie was based on. This book is just a short story and breezes through the first half of the movie in just a couple of pages. It is quite a bit like the movie (which i have found more and more unlikely with each story i read.) I do miss the music and shockingly Hollywood was more kind with conver ...more
Kriangkrai Vathanalaoha
I think the plot was quite predictable, even though the author attempted to settle a connotative question that "where is it written?...for the woman to stop learning or seeking for their 'golden' knowledge". The protagonist, a kooky-imperious Polish woman, had yearned for universal philosophical knowledge so as to disguise herself as a Yeshiva boy to break into men's 'imagined-possibility' world. It turned out, apruptly, that she was to be fallen in love with another real woman, who thought that ...more
Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I recently saw the Barbra Streisand film, "Yentl", and wanted to get background on the story as written by Mr. Singer. May I say, the difference between the stories is great. I don't think it's important to quibble on the changes Streisand made for her film, but it's helpful to read the short story to appreciate how much can change, as these things go, between book and film. If you don't care about that sort of thing, read it anyway, it's a wonderful record of a very different way of living, tho ...more
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
A short story, translated by M. Magid & E. Pollet. Yentl, an orphan, disguises herself as a boy, joins a yeshiva, becomes fast friends with fellow student Avigdor, and marries... Avigdor's former fiancée! An intriguing, surprising story. Why does Yentl deter Avigdor from pursuing her once he learns her secret? Is she a lesbian? Is she a precursor to the modern woman, vehemently eschewing both women's work and marriage? Singer tells a complex tale in simple prose, hinting at hidden meaning. ...more
Jan 18, 2009 rated it really liked it

Not so much a re-read as an occular visitation.

ETA - Mandy Patinkin! You know, him who was Inigo Montoya in The Priness Bride; who knew!
Oct 17, 2009 rated it liked it
I absolutely loved the movie "Yentl" (with Barbra Streisand). This book is much simplified; a shorter, youthful version of the story. I liked it! Like this book much better than the last book I read by Singer - Shosha, a novel. I just looked up his books - my goodness, he is prolific!! ...more
Mar 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Short story that was turned into a great movie. Watched the movie first, loved it, and someone gave me this book as a present.
Miranda Rosbach
Surprisingly divergent from the movie.
May 08, 2009 marked it as to-read
Saw & enjoyed the movie and want to read the original story it's based on. Haven't found in library yet but it may be in one of Singer's story collections. ...more
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
Read periodically to the grand kids.
Klaudia Niwecka
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The definition of love that I have trouble with understanding, but amazing story.
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
It was quite entertaining, spiritual, a bit philosophical. An easy read that will take you to a different time and culture.
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Amazing and exciting story. Barbra Streisand did the book justice, in my opinion.
Colin Mcconnell
Sep 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Like it better than the movie-I can't stand the movie. ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Quite truthfully I like the movie better than the Yiddish short story. Glad I read this one though, the ending isn't what I expected in the original. ...more
Jessica J.
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
That hunger for books!
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Postcolonial Love Poem
  • The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective
  • Cinderellis and the Glass Hill (The Princess Tales, #4)
  • The Princess Test (The Princess Tales, #2)
  • The Afterlife Is Where We Come From
  • The Wine of Astonishment
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, #1)
  • Skylark (Sarah, Plain and Tall #2)
  • Poppy's Return
  • Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, #4)
  • The Runaway Dolls (Doll People, #3)
  • Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep (The Princess Tales, #3)
  • The Meanest Doll in the World (Doll People, #2)
  • A Single Shard
  • Felix Ever After
  • Félix et la source invisible
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Isaac Bashevis Singer was a Polish American author of Jewish descent, noted for his short stories. He was one of the leading figures in the Yiddish literary movement, and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978.
His memoir, "A Day Of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw", won the U.S. National Book Award in Children's Literature in 1970, while his collection "A Crown of Feathers

Related Articles

Danielle Evans was just 26 when she released her short story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self in 2010, a multi-award-winning...
19 likes · 1 comments