Read The Rabbi's Daughter by Reva Mann Online


In this honest, daring, and compulsively readable memoir, Reva Mann paints a portrait of herself as a young woman on the edge—of either revelation or self-destruction. Ricocheting between extremes of rebellion and piety, she is on a difficult but life-changing journey to inner truth.The journey began with an unhappy childhood in a family where religion set the tone and devIn this honest, daring, and compulsively readable memoir, Reva Mann paints a portrait of herself as a young woman on the edge—of either revelation or self-destruction. Ricocheting between extremes of rebellion and piety, she is on a difficult but life-changing journey to inner truth.The journey began with an unhappy childhood in a family where religion set the tone and deviations from it were not allowed. But Reva, a granddaughter of the head of the Rabbinic Council of Israel and daughter of a highly respected London rabbi, was a wild child and she rebelled, spiralling into a whirlwind of sex and drugs by the time she reached adolescence.As a young woman, however, Reva had a startling mystical epiphany that led her to a women’s yeshivah in Israel, and eventually to marriage to the devoutly religious Torah scholar who she thought would take her to ever greater heights of spirituality. But can the path to spiritual fulfillment ever be compatible with the ecstasies of the flesh or with the everyday joys of intimacy and pleasure to which she is also strongly drawn? With unflinching candor, Reva shares her struggle to carve out a life that encompasses all the impulses at war within herself.An eye-opening glimpse into the world of the ultra-Orthodox and their elaborately coded rituals for eating, sleeping, bathing, and lovemaking, as well as a deeply personal rumination on identity, faith, and self-acceptance, this is at its heart a universal story. For those of any faith who have grappled with their own spiritual longings, and for anyone fascinated by traditional religion and its role in modern society, Reva Mann’s chronicle of a journey toward redemption is an unforgettable read.From the Hardcover edition....

Title : The Rabbi's Daughter
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385341424
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Rabbi's Daughter Reviews

  • Deborah
    2019-02-19 07:04

    The more I read of this book, the less I liked the author. For one thing, I hate it when people whine about their lousy childhoods and what a crap job their parents did. If you're going to trash your parents, at least have the decency to change the names and turn it into a novel. Also, this woman didn't know what she wanted. It was obvious that her husband and his Orthdox lifestyle was wrong for her but she was so desperate to fit in that she was willing to change everything about herself. The same thing was true with her relationship with Sam. I kept wanting to tell her to grow a pair and not be so dependent on a man that she had to change her own identity. Having said that, Ms. Mann is a decent writer and her story was interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading. I just wish she had more kojones.

  • Susan Albert
    2019-02-24 05:29

    The Rabbi's Daughter is a book about carnality, the often uncontrollable desires and appetites of the body, and the religious codes that are used to control them. It is not for the faint-hearted reader, or for people who prefer to have sex with the lights off, or for those who are offended by open lewdness. That said, this memoir is a beautiful book, written by a woman whose life has been a bridge between the holy and the profane. Reva Mann is the father-identified daughter and granddaughter of important rabbis in London and Jerusalem. As a teenager, she rebels against the strictures of her Orthodox family's faith, indulging in drugs, sex, and exhibitionist behavior. Repentant and seeking redemption, she goes to Israel to train as a midwife, has a religious experience, and enters a yeshiva (a school for ultra-Orthodox Jewish women). At twenty-five, hoping that marriage to an ultra-Orthodox man will help her fix what is wrong with her and get closer to God, she goes to Mrs. Frankel, the matchmaker ("And vat kind of a husband are you looking for?"). After a few false starts ("Reva, darlink...making a match is harder for God than parting the Red Sea"), Mrs. Frankel provides Simcha, an American Hasidic Jew whose ultra-observant piety seems to Reva to open the path to purification. Within two months, Simcha proposes and gives her a prayer book as an engagement present. Mazel tov. But the constant rituals soon become meaningless, especially those that require sexual separation during the weeks she is a niddah, unclean. Six years, three children, and one affair later (with the hunky Mr. Fixit, who comes to remodel the kitchen), she finds herself in the Rabbinical Court, seeking a divorce. After that, there is sexy Sam (a fixer of a different kind), her father's death, breast cancer, her mother's death, and a reunion with a brain-damaged sister. As the years go on, Reva ceases to ricochet between desperate piety and equally desperate promiscuity and eventually finds a middle way, a true path to redemption, "creating a synthesis of the sacred and the secular...bringing together the holy and the profane." Reva Mann has a deft touch with description, particularly the ludicrous. After her ritual cleansing mikveh, the matron of the bath pronounces her clean: "And I know I am now as kosher as the salt beef sandwiches at Bloom's delicatessen, the ones made by the proprietress, an overweight ballbuster with long white whiskers growing on her chin." When she meets Mr. Fixit, she is impressed by "the way his sex juts out like a mango." Reva's father thinks her ultra-Orthodox husband has a bad case of "messianic fever," and the rabbi who pronounces her divorced wears a frock coat with tails that "flap like bat wings." The erotic scenes might be overpowering if they weren't so over-the-top and downright funny, reveling in the ecstatic messiness of whole-hearted, redemptive sexuality. The Rabbi's Daughter exploits (and sometimes overuses) many of the clichés of the "bad-girl-turned-good" memoir. But while there is a very great deal (for some readers, too much) sensational unruliness as well as intricate descriptions of what it takes to be "truly good" by Hasidic rule-bound standards, the story somehow survives its excess baggage. It is a rabbi's daughter's courageously honest attempt to answer the unanswerable and universal question: How do we live fully in our carnal bodies while we nourish our immortal souls? It is a compassionate book about our fragile, faulty human efforts--never quite right, never quite enough, but always heroic--to find a way to the Divine.

  • Jennifer S. Brown
    2019-02-20 13:05

    This is one of those memoirs that I read and think, "I want to be friends with this woman." Fascinating account of Mann--who is the granddaughter of the former chief rabbi of Israel--who strayed as far from orthodoxy as you can get but then went to the opposite extreme, becoming an Hasidic wife. She then reverts back to the other extreme. I wish there was more on how she lives her life today, but overall, I learned a lot about the ultra-conservative lifestyle and generally was glued to the book.

  • M
    2019-03-17 12:31

    Wow this book was bad. Instead of successfully trashing orthodoxy all she basically does is depict herself as a severely messed up person - and writer - who is self pitying, victimized and incredibly weak and selfish. Instead of rebelling against a theology (and the one she comes from actually sounds refreshingly normal) she looks for love in all the wrong places and can't seem to find the very balance that her ancestors preached. I'm not sure how much of this story can be true - but believe me there is no way her ear for dialogue is - her fanatic husband Simcha's response to her affair is, well it's forbidden to live with a woman who is cheating so I halachically need to move. Right, ok, THAT'S the issue. Or when he says he is SO excited for that first taste of matzah which will unite him with the Jews leaving Egypt and actually SAYS, how cool is that? Reva's choice of men speaks of a seriously low self esteem and determination to have the worst parts of herself capitalized on - but it is hard to sympathize with someone who is so whiny and unlikeable. Her characters are caricatures, and her struggle to find herself just sounds like one long teenage rebellion and cry for attention. However true this story may be, she is way too close to it to give it an authentic flavor, and her writing is so poor I cringed at nearly every page. It seems even those who leave the fold still can't produce anything beyond targum feldheim quality with a different agenda.khaya you know i'm going to make you read it anyway.

  • Nicole
    2019-03-17 12:29

    January 2008:I really enjoyed this book and felt it was easy to read and extremely hard to put down.Saw it at the library by chance and was drawn to the picture on the cover, thinking "whoa, cool blouse".Reading the book itself, I smiled and laughed, cried and sympathised, and nodded my head in agreement with so much of what the author talks about. Growing up in a country that was occupied during WW2 and still has many Jewish people living there, I had Jewish friends of the type Reva was when living in London.Apart from a few minor things (like different holidays), they never seemed different or exotic to me. We studied and played together, discussed books and boys, and generally got on. Reading this book made me realise what I could have learnt from some of those friends if I'd actually made the effort to ask questions and find out more.I love the frequent use of Hebrew words, and the historical, religious and socio-cultural insights this book offers.It really feels like the author opened her doors, sat me down with a cup of tea, and told me about her life, letting me ask questions and giving me honest answers that came from the heart.*******Update, December 2008:I'm re-reading this book, and am enjoying it as much this time around as I did the first time. I feel that reading this book for the second time is a good experience, as I can actually understand many of the references better. Still an amazing read!

  • Ruth Jalfon
    2019-02-23 07:14

    Very hard to put down but at the same time hard to read what this woman has put herself through. There seem to be some people in this world who from nature or nurture or both go to extremes in the way they live and it doesn't seem to matter what direction the extreme is. This is a first narrative tale, based on truth, of someone trying to find balance in her life after living through self-destructive hedonism then swinging totally the opposite way to also harmful fanatical religious orthodoxy. Very raw emotions and honest. Sometimes though it can get tiring about her repeating continually about coping with the family difficulties during childhood which made me want to just shout 'get a grip' and lead your own life, not via a man - father, husband or boyfriend, you own way! Also it was kind of predictable as soon as she did the 'swing' to extreme orthodoxy and met and decided to marry her husband that she would not be able to keep it up or to find happiness. Anyway very readable.

  • Ari
    2019-03-02 12:06

    This was an amazing book. It was so interesting, to see the culture that Reva lived through. I got a great historical lesson of life as a Jew, and also a deep personal look at someone struggling to come through with her religion. I would recommend this to any memoir lover, but especially those who are trying to get through something that is largely apart of their lives. I thank Jennefer for the recommendation!

  • Vicky
    2019-03-19 11:18

    Sad, depressing and irritating!I could not find any sympathy for the heroine. Even if her insights into the ultra-orthodox community are very honest, the constant change of direction in life and lack of understanding what exactly she is looking for made me uncomfortable.

  • Carrie
    2019-03-14 09:19

    racy book about a conservative jewish sect in Israel. Fabulous.

  • Laurie
    2019-02-27 05:08

    I did not expect to find much that resonated with me personally in this book as I am not even Jewish but it did. I see that other reader's have criticized Mann for the depiction of her parents and all I can say is that it is almost impossible to understand unless you have experienced a mother like Reva's as I have. I do agree that some of the sex was way more graphic than it needed to be, not that I am a prude, but there was a bit that I felt was Mann hitting the reader over the head when a quiet hint would have been more effective. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this very much.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-09 05:32

    I admire Mann for her honesty in revealing her most personal struggles in her memoir, but I couldn't relate to her choices or her reactions to the challenges she faced in life. The time she spent in Yesheva and married to a Hassidic scholar were the most interesting parts of the book for me, but I found it hard to imagine that this rebellious, angry, sex-obsessed young woman convinced herself that they way to happiness and redemption lay in going to the opposite extreme. I didn't really like her much as she moved through various stages of her life - but in the end, I appreciated how Mann grew over time. By the end, I found her to be a far more sympathetic character than I did in the beginning.

  • Jacqueline
    2019-03-10 12:02

    I bought this memoir but I am not going to finish readingThe voice of this author comes across to me as depressed and bewildered. It seems as if she sees her problems (monstrously formidable as they are) as caused by her circumstances and the nasty people who have power over her. In the end, she comes to an escape into new circumstances, and the narrative leaves off with the implication that this improves matters.

  • Paula Yerke
    2019-03-12 05:31

    This was one of those memoirs when I wanted to "shake some sense" into the author. Bad decisions led to a trainwreck of a young life. To read her careen from one extreme to another was almost unbelievable. Having said that, it was very readable. I learned about the conservative hasidic life. I always find great interest in the ways people try to be in relationship with God. I hope the 2nd half of her life is better and she learns from her past!

  • Marty
    2019-03-01 10:24

    At times I found this a little too forthcoming; it was raw and TMI. The first part or few pages I was not sure I would continue, but it picks up. I did notice that as in most strict religions, the men are favored and it is mostly the women who leave or rebel.

  • Livia Frankish
    2019-03-17 10:18


  • Maxine
    2019-02-19 10:13

    I couldn't put this book down while I was reading it - but I'm not sure I liked it, or the narrator, all that much either.This is the story of Reva Mann, the daughter and granddaughter of two famous rabbi's, and her path from wild-child, to yeshiva/hasidic woman, to much more moderate woman. Along the way she gets married, has kids, gets cancer, says goodbye to both of her parents, makes peace with her intellectually disabled sister, and tries to find her path to God.The story of this memoir is great - full of salacious detail and inside information on the insular ultra-hasidic community - yet it also came across as hollow. There was nothing to learn in this memoir. I'm not even sure Reva has learnt all that much with telling this tale. Or at least, if she has, it isn't in this book.This is a woman who did not have an ideal upbringing, and seems to blame her parents for all her woes. It sounds possible that she wasn't held enough as a child, and is missing some major emotional and empathetic queues (emotional and social bonding issues). That's all well and good - you're more than welcome to blame your parents for your poor life choices, but after a certain point it gets old. I should also mention, that unless you have an axe to grind against your parents, I don't necessarily agree with naming them in your memoir - especially when they are known in certain communities. Especially regarding the way in which her mother died (suicide), I felt that knowledge would only negatively affect people's perception of her mother as a woman in her community (and she was apparently well known in London circles).She could have changed names in this, or written it as a fiction novel heavily based on her real-life.Through most of this book I felt that Reva just really needed therapy. Her life was a product of her own creation - she made those choices - and can't blame anyone else for that. Unlike other memoirs, like The Glass Castle, where children are put in untenable positions due to their parents actions, Reva's choices were hers to make.Her marriage seemed like a mistake from the start - but again, marriage therapy may have helped as well. Most of the time the issues could have been resolved with an honest conversation between the two of them, but neither one seemed to have the maturity to be honest (with themselves or with each other).Her discussion of Judaism and her Jewishness were the best parts of the book. Reva is searching for God, for connection to a higher power, for a father figure... and seems to find it in the promise of ultra-orthodox Judaism. I think that with a more relaxed (less-stringent) husband, in a slightly less stifling Hasidic community she may have actually found her path and been at peace. There is much in the community that she loves - especially the community part of it. A place where she can feel at home and part of the group. Despite the warning signs that seemed to pop up around her, no one at the seminary she was at mentioned that perhaps she should look at a different rabbi/teaching/school etc. I get that more bodies=more converts, but it seems the height of hubris to assume that your path will work for everyone. Isn't it the job of a good teacher to help their student find their path? And that the path may not always be the same as the teacher's?Some of her interactions in the seminary and with the people there really bothered me. Not to mention the utter distaste for anything secular, and what seemed to also be a lack of respect for the converts among them. For example, if you've even slept with an uncircumcised man you're no longer allowed to marry a Kohen (type of Jewish family - the priestly class). Squicky.There is a fetishization of the "frum-from-birth" person that makes those who convert (even if you're born Jewish) a second class citizen. Of course, being FFB doesn't mean your faith is 100% - it just means you look the part.There are also a lot of issues with sexuality and physicality in the Orthodox and Hasidic community (which has been discussed in other memoirs, like Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots), but also comes to the fore in this book. Again, a different husband may have made all of the difference here. One who wasn't afraid, perhaps, of his own needs, and thus subsumed his sexuality under his religion and piety.At the end Reva is looking for balance between her two extremes - physicality and sexuality, and her love of God and her religion.There were a lot of things about this book that I didn't like, but it was also a gripping tale and a book I had a hard time putting down. An interesting read - and one that will certainly cause lively conversation.

  • Marcy
    2019-02-18 08:06

    Reads like fiction. Quick read, interesting, not developed in certain areas.

  • Sea Urchin
    2019-02-17 13:11

    Oh man, did it take me a long time to finish this book! 1 or 2 years I think. I dropped it midway, and picked it back up where I left... I would give it 2.5 stars but unfortunately, goodreads only allows whole numbers :) Anyway, I really got glued to the first half of the book and thought it was great! It talked about all the laws in Judaism that the orthodox people in Israel follow, a real eye-opener and very interesting. It was also interesting to see how a girl who was so much into sex and drugs sought after religion to fill the emptiness within her and attempted to marry someone to fill the emptiness and later on, she realizes that the emptiness is still there... I liked the ending as well. There were some parts in the book that got super boring and I found it to be a little too much about her, but then again, this is a memoir after all. But what I'm talking about is, she constantly felt empty and neglected at times and this theme was very common throughout the book.Overall, it was alright. Great first half, but bits and pieces boring, and I loved the ending where she re-united with her sister and saw her for who she actually was, rather than idealizing her or showing her off to others as something she wasn't, like her mom used to do.

  • Magdalena Wajda
    2019-02-24 10:13

    It was recommended in a book group. I did not expect this memoir to grip me so much. Do not expect great literature when you start reading it. But expect honesty, reaching really deep. It's very hard to put down, as it's really well-written and grips you with the reality of words and feelings.It's a trip into the world of Orthodox Jews, fascinating by itself. It is also a trip inside the mind and heart of a young woman, inadverdently harmed by her parents, looking for love (in all the wrong places), who first was a junkie-hippy-promiscuous rich Londoner, only to turn into an Orthodox Jewish girl and wife - to learn this is not what she wants. The reader goes with Reva as she goes through her transitions, from the careless love-seeker to the proper Jewish wife and mom, who realizes this is not the right life for her. Painful at times, as I really sympathized with the protagonist. Really really worth reading. It's also a story on how the tragedy of having a heavily disabled child in the family influences the whole family (food for thought for some people ...). I highly recommend it!

  • Hilary Weinstein
    2019-03-12 10:11

    The only word I can find for this book is interesting. I found that I was trying to read between the lines and find out what it was that the author was actually trying to say. Living a Modern Orthodox life myself, I found that I understood the way of life and what she was going through. However, I found the story lacking even though it kept me glued as I wanted to know the outcome.Reva Mann was brutally honest and I do feel for her children in this as she has come from a completely secular lifestyle into a really Orthodox one which are diametrically opposite. It would be extremely hard for a person to be happy doing this and it came as no surprise to me that it did not last. It would be surprising if her children were not affected psychologically by the dramatic change of living with one secular parent and one really ultra orthodox.It was very brave for Reva Mann to be so honest about her life and loves and her sexual appetite. Perhaps there is something of her in all of us, looking for everything, love, affection, sexual satifaction etc. Do we ever find everything we are seeking?Good book, but found it a bit lacking. Would recommend it though.

  • Shani
    2019-03-03 13:08

    This book almost reads as a thriller... you want to know what happens and I couldn't put it down. Amazing true story and so well written. However, I did feel that after the divorce from Simha the motif diverges a little from religion and goes on to be just a story of survival (cancer, loneliness, problems with the parents) so there could be 2 different books - one about survival and another about the passage from the drug-sex-life to the ultra religious, and out again to somewhere in between - the story which I was more interested in. I would definitely like to meet this woman! Also I find it interesting she did not have any other relationships after Sam and chose to live celibate. I wonder whether that has changed. The other comment I had was that the passage out of the ultra-orthodox life after the third child was a little too quick for me.I wonder who in her family and friends read the book and also how this book reads to an non-Jew.

  • K
    2019-03-04 05:19

    So now I finished it, and my initial pure smut impressions remain. The author's conflicts about Orthodoxy are depicted through her various sexual experiences and other bad decisions, basically. She's a messed-up chick, and while I occasionally felt sorry for her, I mostly felt disgusted by her choices, many of which were just ridiculous. I do give her credit for writing a pretty readable book (if you can handle the content, with its self-destructive misery and frequent graphic sex), and for displaying some apparently genuine sympathy toward her characters despite the largely negative way in which she paints them. I also realized that one of the difficulties of writing a memoir is that you usually can't reconstruct the dialogue accurately and are forced to approximate it, which gives you a lot of leeway -- perhaps too much. I think the dialogue was a factor in making this story feel artificial and exaggerated at times.

  • Iva
    2019-02-25 12:21

    I couldn't stop reading this fascinating story of a British women in an arranged marriage.Her attempt to lead a strict Orthodox life breaks down when she realizes she really liked her old life of sex and drugs which she spends the bulk of the book telling us of her youth as a rabbi's daughter and granddaughter in London. (And of course how her parents didn't do right by her.) Most interesting was her portrayal of her immersion in the strict orthodox life, and the customs of the traditional bath, keeping a strict kosher kitchen, and the separation of men and women. The cover shows a woman's bare shoulders wrapped in a prayer shawl--this is certainly against the rules. Interesting and compelling reading, but like many memoirs, the author comes across as very self-absorbed and not easy to sympathize with her plight.

  • Jamie
    2019-03-20 09:17

    This book is crazy. I wanted to read a little more about Jewish Orthodoxy so I chose this memoir. It has some very interesting information about the far right of Judaism. I think the lead character is incredibly flawed and hopelessly sad. She turns to orthodoxy after being raised as a secular rabbi's daughter in London. She moves to Israel, studies at a yeshiva, and has an arranged marriage with a Hassid. She reminds me of a rebellious minister's kid because she immerses herself in all sorts of terrible things to escape her unbringing. She has numberous sexual partners, takes all kinds of drugs, and gets arrested. She turns to orthodoxy as a form of repentance. It's interesting to see her struggle. I suggest the book but warn the author is hardly a sympathetic character.

  • Alex Laycock
    2019-03-08 06:23

    Initially absolutely fascinating insight into the world of being an Ultra Orthadox Jew......quite astonished me the laws and rituals they have over all aspects of their lifestyle...........HOWEVER just over half way through the book Reva has an affair and lets it all slip, it then turns into a tedious novel about detailed sex,drugs,which bored me,even the next turn about her getting cancer (i do do realise what a terrible impact this was and is on anyones life) but i just lost interest,shame as the first part of the book was BRILLIANT and i will now read more about the Orthodox Jewish Religion,for that i will thank her for educating me about things i had little knowledge about

  • Laura
    2019-02-25 08:26

    Interesting was a peek into the world of the ultra-Orthodox from the perspective of an outsider. The book's flow was a little odd; it ocvered a lot of events without much commentary or explanation, and the chronology was a bit hard to follow at points. I think it could have been better written, but she had a really interesting life story. If anything, I think she condensed events too much without enough discussion of what led her to make such sweeping decisions, such as to leave a more moderate Jewish lifestyle to join the ultra-Orthodox, her quick decision to get married, and her seemingly quick decision to shed a lot of the principles of her sect, later followed by her divorce.

  • Neelz
    2019-03-01 09:17

    Really, really depressing, from start to finish. Less a commentary on Orthodoxy or Ultra-Orthodoxy than the author's opportunity to castigate her dead parents for being unfeeling and self-absorbed. The most notable thing about the book is the author's raw description of sexual encounters. I've never read such a graphic memoir. If you're into that kind of thing - and can feel sympathetic for a whiny addict who longs to be holy and pure - you'll enjoy this book. If you would rather not be caught up in the rancid flavor of a woman spiraling further and further away from healthy relationships and expectations, don't even crack this baby open.

  • Holly
    2019-02-28 06:28

    I enjoy reading books about people of different faiths, so this book appealed to me. It really gives you an inside view of the world of ultra-orthodox Judaism through the eyes of the author in this autobiography. I found the author frustrating at times, even infuriating, but I did sympathize with her feelings of longing for love and acceptance and a feeling of belonging. I think if I hadn't lived in a very Jewish town and already knew so much about Jewish traditions, I might have been more lost because she does use some vocabulary that I probably wouldn't have known otherwise. I found the later half of the book more annoying and not as interesting.

  • Rachel
    2019-02-22 11:06

    I didn't care for this memoir, though it did spark some interesting conversation in our book club. Reva Mann, a rabbi's daughter who grows up in London, first rebels through excessive drugs and promiscuous sex, then tries her hand at life as an ultra-Orthodox wife and mother in Jerusalem. She's so selfish and immature that she doesn't seem to hesitate to leave a previous life behind, regardless of how much harm she does to lovers or even her three children. I'm not sure I've read a less contemplative memoir. Mann seems to lack the self-awareness that might have made this a more satisfying read.

  • Elizabeth☮
    2019-03-11 05:12

    Riva comes from a religious family, but does embrace her Judaism until she is in her early twenties and then she does so with vigor. she moves to Israel to study midwifery, but gets drawn to study her religion more closely. she becomes orthodox and marries a man that is newly indoctrinated as well. Riva believes this life will bring her closer to God and to being a good Jew, but she is not able to give up much of what she enjoyed in the secular world - including passionate lovemaking. An interesting journey of self-discovery and a close look at Judaism from a new eye. There are a lot of hebrew terms that are not always easily discernible, but otherwise a good read.