Set in the Orthodox Jewish community in North West London, The Marrying of Chani Kaufman is the poignant and humorous story of nineteen-year-old Chani Kaufman and the lead-up to her wedding night.
Nineteen-year-old Chani lives in the ultra-orthodox Jewish community of North West London. She has never had physical contact with a man, but is bound to marry a stranger. The rabbi’s wife teaches her what it means to be a Jewish wife, but Rivka has her own questions to answer. Soon buried secrets, fear, and sexual desire bubble to the surface in a story of liberation and choice; not to mention what happens on the wedding night.
This impressive debut provides entry to a London kehilla, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the lives of a young, betrothed couple and a rabbi and rebbetzin are gracefully intertwined. In Harris's world, life is lived religiously and compliantly, ritual to ritual, Shabbat to Shabbat. Given that the traditional choice of spouse here is practiced through a matchmaker, Baruch Levy defies both his family and expectations by stubbornly choosing to court Chani Kaufman. Barely acquainted, and after only a few meetings, Chani and Baruch become engaged; they are intelligent and pious, yet completely uninformed, and anxious, about the wedding night. The marriage of Rebbetzin Rivka Zilberman, Chani's wedding tutor, and her husband Rabbi Chaim Zilberman is troubled. Tragedies, loneliness and alienation have led to the rebbetzin's confusion: "How could she fit into a community where the pain of her loss was swept under an endless tide of prayer?" Intelligent, revealing characters who command conviction and connection; the tug between the old ways and modern life; and the universal themes of desire, guilt, manipulation and submission will resonate with readers from all backgrounds. Harris's debut is as deeply melodic and exciting as her depiction of Shabbat in Jerusalem, and will linger after the last page.
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The Marrying of Chani Kaufman
Excellent story with a little insight into the Jewish faith, their customs and traditions. Looking forward to this authors next book.