This work was concomitantly a book and a dissertation. It was under contract with the Jewish Publication Society from the prospectus stage onward. Whereas dissertations usually inaugurate a life of scholarship, this book builds upon the work of a lifetime, twenty-five years of shaping a Jewish feminist theology and ethics. I thank everyone who has taught me, helped me, or been a partner with me in the task. A special thanks to Michael Goldberg, who first taught me that what I was trying to write was called theology and whose own work on narrative theology has profoundly influenced my thought.
A joint committee from the University of Southern California and Hebrew Union College gave me the benefit of their impressive intellectual resources and the warmth of their friendship: David Ellenson and Donald Miller, co-chairs, and Sheila Briggs, Tamara Eskenazi, and Ruth Weisberg. A special thanks to David Ellenson, who took time from his frenetic schedule to comment painstakingly on chapter after chapter and to write the introduction to this book. I am also grateful to the National Foundation for Jewish Culture for a fellowship that supported a year of writing. Dr. Yaffa Weisman, Judaica librarian at Hebrew Union College, and the entire llibrary staff were loyal and tireless friends to my project, finding obscure references, burrowing through unbound periodicals in the basement, and scouring CD-Roms and the Internet for requested information.
My mainstay during seven long years of writing has been the Women's Hevra Shas, a group of academic women and rabbis who meet weekly around my table for tea and Talmud, using a multidisciplinary feminist methodology. These dear study companions critiqued and applauded draft after draft. How can I ever sufficiently thank Tamara Eskenazi and Maeera Shreiber, who recommended sources, performed surgery on refractory chapters, and wiped my tears? I have also benefited from the good counsel of Shoshanna Gershenzon, Laura Geller, Bridget Wynn, Sue Levi Elwell, Isa Aron, and Jacqueline Ellenson.
Others also lavished time and energy on me. Over several years' time, Barbara Dalton-Taylor read three chapters aloud, making me clarify every esoteric reference or murky phrase. Another exacting critic, my son Amitai Adler, who has a particular distaste for postmodernist cultural-critical jargon, read heroically and ultimately pronounced the manuscript intelligible. Friends from afar who enriched my work with their critiques and suggestions include Judith Plaskow, Marcia Falk, Riv-Ellen