June 18, 2011

Blog Tour of Inspired Reading: The Red Tent

Today's post is in conjunction with the Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour: a fantastic blog hop that brings together bloggers of all genres, backgrounds and locations. In today's hop, the blog featured before mine is Karen's But I Digress. The blog featured after me is the captivating Catherine at Idea City. Do stop by and say hello plus some of us are having giveaways and contests. Enjoy!

For this Blog Tour, we were asked to write about the book that inspires us the most. I'm glad I've gotten the  prompt to write about a book that has meant so much to me over the years and has in many ways, shaped the way I view myself as Jewish Woman (yes, with capital J and capital W).

Every woman should read Anita Diamant's The Red Tent. I have often called it Required Reading for Every Woman because it is a remarkable, gorgeous, sensuous work of historical fiction that celebrates both the darkest and most glorious parts of what it means to be Woman.

Seriously? Go read it this weekend.
Very briefly, because I don't want this to feel like a book report - The Red Tent unearths the story of Dinah from the dusts of the Torah, a Biblical figure who receives little more than passing mention in Genesis 34. Jacob is known as one of the great Patriarchs of Judaism with two Matriarchs at his side, Rachel and Leah, and a whole host of a dozen sons who became the Twelve Tribes of Israel. But among his boyish brood exists a lone daughter: Dinah.  Her story is often known as "The Rape of Dinah" as a prince of Shechem "defiles" her, and Dinah's brothers Levi and Simeon avenge her rape by massacring the city of Shechem, leaving no survivors.

And with that, Dinah fades back into the dust of the Torah, never to be mentioned again. This is where Diamant picks up, fleshing out the story of Dinah's youth and relationship to her four mothers: Rachel, Leah, and Jacob's concubines Zilpah and Bilhah, as well has her grandmother, Rebecca. She weaves the tale of Dinah falling in love with the Prince of Shechem and that her brothers' crusade was bent on murderous rage. After the massacre, she flees to Egypt where she gives birth to a son and becomes an devoted and talented midwife.

The Red Tent refers to something we talk about a lot in the infertility community: our menstrual cycles. As happens in many confined living arrangements, the women would often cycle together, in a phenomenon known as menstrual synchrony or the McClintock effect. Ancient tribes of women would gather in a menstrual tent or hut during their blood cycle, often cycling with the moon. Dinah learns of her rich heritage, not just as a third generation of monotheistic Jews, but as a Woman in her place in a Long Line of Women Before Her.

As I've said before, we shouldn't be ashamed or grossed out by our periods, because our menstrual cycles are a vital indicator of women's health. The Red Tent reminds us of this and inspires us to be mindful of the miracle and wonder of our own human forms.

You may have also read posts where I speak of the Red Tent Temple, the women's group I go to every month. The Red Tent Temple movement was born out of Diamant's novel by ALisa Starkweather, a Wise Woman and Women's Empowerment Practitioner. I'm also so pleased to know filmmaker Isadora Leidenfrost who is making a documentary of the Red Tent Temple Movement: Things We Don't Talk About. This one-hour film is slated to be released next year. I have eagerly been awaiting the trailer; hopefully I've made the cut from hundreds of hours of footage that Isadora shot herself at Red Tent Temples all over the country. She's also looking for some more financial support to stay on track with her production and release schedule, so if you know of women-empowered businesses or organizations who'd be willing to help out an empowered woman filmmaker, please head over to her site and drop her a line.

The Red Tent in its modern iteration has become a place of community wisdom and social healing, a sisterhood of empowerment. In reading The Red Tent and participating in the Red Tent Temple in my own community, I've realized that their is indeed power to be had in gathered groups of women. We need more dialogue circles like this, more Red Tents, to share our collective womanhood experiences; there is so much we can learn from one another as women when given the opportunity.

So... have you picked up your copy yet? The Red Tent is an amazingly beautiful, captivating read, and like I said: practically required reader for women everywhere. Now head on over to Catherine's Idea City - she'll tell you about her most inspiring book. Come meet me over there and we can read along together! Want to see what other books are inspiring other bloggers? Follow along on the rest of the Blog Tour this week by stopping by at each of these fabulous blogs for the Blog-a-licious Blog Tour!
  1. Roy: Roy’s Garage Sell and Auction Well
  2. Sulekha: Memoirs
  3. Sora: Peace from Pieces
  4. Shaeeza: My B Words
  5. Mari: Mari Sterling Wilbur Photography
  6. Paula: Hardline Self Help
  7. Karen: ...But I Digress
  8. (You are here) Keiko: Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed
  9. Catherine: Idea City
  10. Kate and Ashley: Back of the Book Reviews
  11. Desiree: Desiree Holt Tells All
  12. Sonia: Sonia Rumzi.com
  13. DK Levick: Writing in the Woods
  14. Sarcasm Goddess: For the Love of Writing
  15. Tosh: Totsymae.com
  16. Lucy: Life Through Lucylastica's Lense
  17. Leo: Find Peace, Love and God
  18. Dora: Blog-a-licious Blogs


Totsymae said...

As I read the beginning of your summary of the novel, I started thinking 'Why hasn't a movie been produced on this?' and then I see something is in the works. I'm surprised still it's not hit the big screen. it' such an important work. I'm getting the book. Thanks for sharing this. Glad I met you on the tour:-)

Desiree Holt said...

What a great, great story and what a wonderful topic. Okay. Gotta read this one.

Sonia Rumzi said...

Keiko, What can I say? This was absolutely delightful! You are wonderful and your writing is amazing. I did not like The Red Tent as much as you did but I understand it from your perspective now and love that it helped.


justine said...

I need to go back to this book. As a former English major, I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read a whole book cover to cover in a while ... and this was one that I remember enjoying a great deal. Thanks for the reminder. :)

Pandora Poikilos said...

I said it before and I'll say it again - I LOVE the name of your blog. This is a definite must read for me. Thank you for joining the blog tour.
Cheers - Dora

Heather said...

Looks like a very interesting book. You are right: the menstrual cycle is a powerful function of womanhood.

Roy Durham said...

i will have to look this red tent up sounds interesting. great post, i like your blog and thank you for being on the tour. have a great day and god bless


Thanks for suggesting this book. I am really looking forward to reading it. Here from the blog tour and a new follower.

*Mandie* said...

I read "The Red Tent" in a college religion class; and it's amazing! I could write so much more about it, but you just HAVE to experience it yourself...VERY worthwhile read! :)

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

It's very nice to find you - glad you're on this Tour. This sounds like such an interesting book I'll definitely have to read it. It sounds very empowering for women.

Chasing Joy said...

I may recommend that book for my book club. Thanks. Stopping by after #commenthour.

Tammy said...

This sounds like a very interesting read. I normally don't read fiction but this one sounds surprisingly interesting. Here from CommentHour

Paula Renaye said...


You are helping so many with your website! The book sounds fascinating!

Isn't it interesting that we can learn similar things from totally different experiences, particularly in the self discovery realm when we go for what we want.

So nice to meet you!

Duane said...

Well - what can I say? I think I'm out on limb but I appreciate the boldness of your post. It is well written and honest. Thank you

brianne_rn said...

This is one of my all time favorite books!! I completely agree with you. I have probably bought 6 copies of this book and handed it out to my closest girlfriends!

Chasing Joy said...

I wanted you to know that I added reading the Red Tent to my list of things to do this summer and I linked to this post from my blog:-) http://www.chasing-joy.com/2011/06/summer-of-joy.html