Tuesday, December 4, 2012

GRANDMOTHER'S LIBRARY: Yentl the Yeshiva Boy

Yentl the Yeshiva Boy 

by Antonio Frasconi

After I discovered that Barbara Streisand's movie, Yentl, was based on a book, I decided I wanted to read it.  The movie actually follows this short 58 page novel well, with a little poetic license thrown in.

Yentl is a girl living in a time when girls were not allowed to study. Her father allows her to study with him, but when he dies, she is afraid she will have to give that up.  She decides to cut her hair, dress as a boy, and join a yeshiva so that she may continue to study the scriptures.

Along the way, Yentl, who has now changed her name to Anshel, meets and falls in love with Avigdor, another yeshiva student.  Yentl's lies become more complex as she devises a plan to 'marry' the woman that Avigdor loves in order to remain close to him. 

The movie remains true to the book in that Avigdor is not allowed to marry his true love because his brother committed suicide; however, in the book, Avigdor marries a widow and is extremely unhappy.  When Yentl finally can no longer live the lie, she reveals herself to Avigdor, who loves her back.  However, Yentl wants to remain a yeshiva student and could not do that if she married.  She sends divorce papers to Hadass, her 'wife,' who never knows what has happened: it remains a mystery to the village. Avigdor divorces the mean widow and marries Hadass. Avigdor and Hadass live happily ever after, naming their first son Anshel.

This is an easy, quick book. I read the whole book while sitting in the waiting room of the doctor's office.
I recommend both the book and the movie.


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