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A Life of Paradox and Purpose
by Motti Inbari
Published by: Indiana University Press
Ruth Blau: A Life of Paradox and Purpose explores the life of a curious, if not mysterious, character in modern Jewish history. Born a French Catholic, Ruth Blau (Ben-David) (1920–2000) lived a constantly twisting life. During World War II, Blau was active in the French Resistance, and under their command, she joined the Gestapo as a double agent. After the war, she studied philosophy as a PhD candidate at the Sorbonne during the 1950s.
After converting to Judaism and moving to Israel in 1960, Blau was involved in concealing Yossele Schumacher, a seven-year-old child, as part of a militant conflict between ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews in Israel. In 1965, despite a huge scandal, she married Amram Blau, head of the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta. After the death of her husband in 1973, Blau took upon herself to travel to Arab countries to help the Jewish communities in distress in Lebanon and Iran, where she met Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and his deputy Abu Jihad. But the most significant connections she made were in Iran. In 1979, she met with the leader of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini.
Ruth Blau: A Life of Paradox and Purpose represents the first full-length biography of this remarkable woman. Drawing on a trove of archival materials and interviews with those who knew Ruth, Motti Inbari offers a complex, multifaceted portrait of a woman undertaking a remarkable and influential journey through modern European and Middle Eastern history.
3. "Your God Is My God": Lucette's Quest for Spirituality
4. "Your People Shell Be My People": Conversion
5. Where Is Yossele?
6. The Hunt (1962)
7. "I Am Also Acquiring Ruth as My Wife": The Marriage of Ruth Ben David and Rabbi Amram Blau
8. Ruth Blau: The Rebbetzin
9. "Fierce Woman!": Traveling in Muslim Countries
10. Ruth Blau, the Ultra-Orthodox Society, and the Israeli Public Opinion
Motti Inbari is Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Inbari is author/editor of nine books, including The Making of Modern Jewish Identity: Ideological Change and Religious Conversion and Jewish Radical Ultra-Orthodoxy Confronts Modernity, Zionism and Women's Equality. His manuscript on Ruth Blau won several pre-publication awards.
"Prof. Inbari explores the stranger-than-fiction tale of a woman who spied on the Gestapo, converted to Judaism twice, kidnapped a boy, and whose marriage sparked protests."~The Times of Israel
"While the Haredi world has produced interesting people, perhaps one of the most interesting and simultaneously enigmatic and controversial is Ruth Blau. Her personality and life story demands a biography. And Motti Inbari, professor of Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina, has filled that void with Ruth Blau: A Life of Paradox and Purpose."~Ben Rothke, JewishLink
"Summarizing Ruth's life would be doing a disservice. Inbari packs so much riveting detail into his 224-page book that I will only drop tantalizing hints of a Gestapo infiltration, spy missions in Morocco, religious identity crises, multiple failed relationships, questionable business activities, Mossad interrogations, Iranian rescue missions, and of course, kidnapping and hiding Yossele Schmacher for ideological purposes."~JewishPress.com
"The untold full story of the most paradoxical woman who fought the Israeli Mossad and her marriage to the extreme antizionist Rabbi of Jerusalem. History at its best. "~Margalit Shilo, Bar Ilan University
"Ruth Blau: A Life of Paradox and Purpose constitutes a landmark study of a heretofore mysterious yet highly significant personage in modern Jewish history. A French convert who married the resolutely anti-Zionist Neturei Karta leader Rabbi Amram Blau, this study of her life provides great insight into our understanding of Jewish ultra-Orthodoxy and the role of women within it. Inbari draws on rich archival resources and extensive interviews to construct this story of her life and its many twists and turns both in Israel and the Diaspora. In so doing, he makes an original and vital contribution to modern feminist and Israeli scholarship."~David Ellenson, Brandeis University
"This is an outstanding book. Its hero (actually heroine) is outstanding. Its research depth is outstanding. Even its writing style is outstanding."~Menachem Keren-Kratz – Israel, Jewish Culture and History
"Inbari . . . is generous in his overall assessment of the woman whose story he has so skillfully recounted. He recognizes her fanaticism and flaws but admires her resourcefulness, her courage, and her adherence to her principles."~Allan Arkush, Binghamton University
"This is an outstanding book. Its hero (actually heroine) is outstanding. Its research depth is outstanding. Even its writing style is outstanding. This is the biography of Ruth Blau. This book is, to my best knowledge, the first academic book ever dedicated entirely to a single ultra-Orthodox woman."~Menachem Keren-Kratz, Jewish Culture and History
"Inbari is generous in his overall assessment of the woman whose story he has soInbari, soskillfully recounted. He recognizes her fanaticism and flaws but admires herskillfully herresourcefulness, her courage, and her adherence to her principles."~Allan Arkush, Jewish Review of Books