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The Story Behind The Lost Matriarch:

Finding Leah in the Bible and Midrash

Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis is one of the most influential pulpit rabbis in America. Jerry Rabow has been his student and friend for the last 45 years.


"Rabbi Schulweis is a true visionary but, above all else, his selfless style gives congregants control over the implementation of his visionary ideas and motivates them to action," says Rabow. Schulweis influenced Rabow to pursue his interest in Jewish study and become an author. As a rational intellectual, with a Harvard College education, Rabow had difficulty with religious thought and theology until he met Schulweis. "Rabbi Schulweis has most affected my life and my writing by serving as my role model for honest, rational inquiry into important Jewish issues in a way that can empower every Jew to contribute to the development of Jewish thought and the elevation of Jewish conduct in the world."


Rabow retired early from his successful law practice to read, write and teach. The idea for The Lost Matriarch came to him when he discovered the medieval commentator Rashi's interpretation of Leah, which was still compelling a millennium later. "I became so intrigued by the story—or rather, the apparent absence of any real biblical story of Leah—that I decided to explore the story of her life as it has been revealed in two thousand years of midrashic commentaries."


Schulweis's pride in his student is evident: "With imaginative insight, Jerry Rabow has placed a human face and heart onto the persona of this biblical drama of love, loyalty, and intrigue. The author endows this ancient romance with empathic contemporary relevance."




This essay was published in the Jewish Publication Society Newsletter for September, 2014.  The world now mourns the loss of Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, z”l, on December 18, 2014.