Review: Osnat and Her Dove

 Osnat and Her Dove

by Sigal Samuel, illustrated by Vali Mintzi

Levine Querido

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Kathy Bloomfield

Lovely, engaging prose and gorgeous pictures relate the story of Osnat Barzani, considered the first female rabbi and first female Kurdish leader. While most of the book is historical fiction, because few of her writings are extant, the author has done an excellent job of transforming what little is available into a powerful story of wisdom, courage and miracles. Starting with Osnat’s childhood, moving through her marriage and culminating in her rise to Rosh Yeshiva (Head of the School) of her father’s house of study, details of her strength of character, her passion for Torah study, and her care for the students and communities she served abound.

The artwork reflects the Sephardic community in Iraq with deep colors and strong lines, bringing the story to life in bold and attractive ways.

This gorgeous book has everything it needs to be a Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner for Young Readers. The writing is extraordinary, the artwork is breathtaking. The details of Osnat’s life are well-researched. Most importantly, the story of a little-known Sephardic Jewish woman, and a look at the lives of a long-ago Sephardic Jewish community is a welcome change from the usual holiday and Ashkenazic fare.

Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze? Click here!

Reviewer Kathy Bloomfield is the President of the Association of Jewish Libraries. She is working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic to upgrade her long dormant website, She lives in Seal Beach, CA.