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Seven blessings
Book
2003
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Reviews

Library Journal Reviews

While the machinations of matchmakers have long been a staple of fiction, King's debut novel puts a fresh spin on the subject. Matchmakers Judy and Tsippi, members of the ultraorthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem, are both looking for the right mate for their skittish friend Beth while also trying to find meaning in their own lives. Judy seeks a depth that being a wife, mother, and matchmaker have not conferred upon her. Tsippi dreams of a relationship with her husband as romantic as those in her successful matches. As Beth reluctantly moves toward marriage with a fine but imperfect young man, Judy and Tsippi begin to realize their potential through Torah study, finding scriptural wisdom that nourishes both mind and body. King's portrayal of a religious community is as warm and engaging as any in contemporary literature. Her characters jump off the page and into the hearts of her audience. Some readers may find the amount of Yiddish challenging, but the rewards of this charming spiritual tale should overcome the obstacles. For public libraries, particularly those serving Jewish communities.-Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Two Orthodox Jewish matchmakers strive busily to marry off their neighbors in this bustling debut novel set in modern-day Jerusalem. Tsippi, who works the counter of her husband's grocery store, is always on the lookout for promising single shoppers, even as her own marriage begins to show signs of wear. Judy, a glamorous mother of six, fits in her matchmaking around her studies at a yeshiva for women, where she is taking Torah classes, looking for deeper meaning in life. Both take a stab at setting up 39-year-old Beth, a staunchly independent Orthodox woman from the U.S. who has gone on more first dates than she can count. Now her possibilities are beginning to dwindle, and to make matters worse, she is troubled by a crisis of faith. When Tsippi sends her on a date with Akiva, a house painter and student of the Torah, Beth is hopeful, but Akiva is afflicted by a disconcerting twitch. A date with arrogant Binyamin, one of Judy's clients, is even more discouraging. Binyamin is a handsome American artist, a newcomer to observant Judaism, but none of the women he dates are good enough for him: as he puts it, "A beauty, dammit, that's what he wanted. Attractive wouldn't do." King tracks the dating fates of Beth, Akiva and Binyamin, but pays equal attention to their spiritual searching. Her attention to minor variations in levels of orthodoxy makes the book a sociological study of sorts ("he went to a very religious black-hat hareidi yeshiva, yet from the look of him he seemed two steps removed from that world"), but her richly detailed descriptions of Jerusalem (the reader can almost smell the falafel frying) and her sympathetic characters make this a fully realized novel. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Advance Praise for Seven Blessings

"Arranged marriages will never look the same. Ruchama King transforms the life of Orthodox Jerusalem into the universal terms of love and courtship---and yes, real intimacy and self-fulfillment. A perceptive and charming book."--- Risa Miller, author of Welcome to Heavenly Heights

"Ruchama King is herself a great matchmaker---between the sensual and the ethereal, between subtle storytelling and startling revelation. Her novel moves with a grace I have not encountered. What a loss it would have been to have never read it, or for her to have never written it." --- Stephen J. Dubner, author of Confessions of a Hero Worshiper and Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family

" I really enjoyed this book. Ruchama King knows Jerusalem, its matchmakers, and the Americans who wind up there looking for love and connection to each other and to God. It made me laugh and it touched my heart. It's a truly wonderful read." --- Naomi Ragen, author of The Ghost of Hannah Mendes

"Seven Blessings is a wonderful literary alchemy that combines Malamud's "The Magic Barrel" with Potok's The Chosen. Set in Israel and shadowed by the teachings of the Bible, this is a novel that wears its heart on every page and reveals the secrets and mysteries of how souls on earth manage to find the match that they are fated to marry."
--- Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham and Second Hand Smoke

"It is a rare event for a way of life to be portrayed with a fresh, intelligent artist's eye. Seven Blessings is such an event---an absolute knockout of a first novel.... It's hard to write a page-turning story about religious people, but King has done it, and with tremendous charm. This is a funny, revealing, wonderful book!" ---Alice Elliott Dark, author of Think of England and In the Gloaming
- (Holtzbrinck)

Author Biography

Ruchama King lived, studied, and taught in Jerusalem for ten years. Her short stories have appeared in various magazines and journals. She now lives in New Jersey with her husband and children. Seven Blessings is her first novel.
- (McMillan Palgrave)

Annotations

Relocating to Jerusalem's Orthodox community, five Jewish singles come to terms with how the study of Torah affects an individual's feelings about romantic intimacy and marriage. - (Baker & Taylor)

Relocating to Jerusalem's Orthodox community, five Jewish singles come to terms with how the study of Torah affects an individual's feelings about romantic intimacy and marriage. A first novel. 15,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

Ruchama King's Seven Blessings maps out the complicated lives of five expatriate women and men whose search for a soul mate, in many ways, mirrors their search for God.
At the center of this fascinating novel is Beth, who at age thirty-nine longs to be married but despairs she ever will be. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, he has what she believes to be an insurmountable flaw. Can she overcome her repugnance in order to forge a new life? Binyamin, a talented painter and student, lacks the humility to identify a worthy wife. He strains the matchmakers' patience until his search for perfect love finally becomes ridiculous, even to himself. Tsippi and Judith, the matchmakers, are stumbling themselves, with marriages that need propping up. In this land of miracles, seeking the right match, whether between singles, husband and wife, student and teacher, or man and God, becomes a quest that opens the Bible to us in a new way. - (Blackwell North Amer)

The closed, secret world of matchmaking in contemporary Israel provides the titillating pivot for a story of uncommon proportions. In Ruchama King's skillful hands, Seven Blessings maps out the complicated lives of five expatriate women and men whose search for a soul mate, in many ways, mirrors their search for God.

At the center of this fascinating novel is Beth, who at age thirty-nine longs to be married but despairs she ever will be. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, he has what she believes to be an insurmountable flaw. Can she overcome her repugnance in order to forge a new life? Binyamin, a talented painter and student, lacks the humility to identify a worthy wife. He strains the matchmakers' patience until his search for perfect love finally becomes ridiculous, even to himself. Tsippi and Judith, the matchmakers, are stumbling themselves, with marriages that need propping up. In this land of miracles, seeking the right match, whether between singles, husband and wife, student and teacher, or man and God, becomes a quest that opens the Bible to us in a new way.

Rich characters, an intriguing setting, writing that offers unique nuances, and ultimately a story that keeps you turning the pages all combine to introduce a remarkable newcomer. Seven Blessings redefines the Jewish experience, with a story that will ring with truth for anyone who's ever considered getting married.
- (McMillan Palgrave)

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