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Naomi and Ruth, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, were best friends who lived without men in an ancient culture where women needed husbands in order to survive. Naomi had no choice but to follow her husband to Moab, a foreign country, where she met Ruth who sought her help to keep her little sister, Anna, safe from the priests who were going to martyr her in a religious rite. After Naomi’s husband died, she became a single mother, earning her living as a clothmaker and raising her two sons on her own. Ruth, in and out of Naomi’s life, eventually married Naomi’s oldest son, but Ruth was a victim of earlier abuse and had no physical interest in her husband: they remained childless. After Naomi’s sons died in an accident, the grief-stricken Naomi decided to return to Bethlehem; Ruth insisted on going with her. In Bethlehem, Naomi set Ruth up in a secret liaison with Boaz whom she knew was honorable. He already had three wives and they were not happy about him taking another wife, especially young and attractive Ruth, who soon bore him a son.

 

Naomi and Ruth are characters from the Biblical Book of Ruth and are sacred role models for women of today, exploring relationships, miscarriage, grief, and friendship. This novel is a work of fiction that Jewish readers might consider a midrash but is intended for women of all religious persuasions or none.

 

Its study guide, written by scholar and minister, Rev. Dr. Roberta Mosier Peterson, has reflective questions for each chapter to facilitate discussions in small groups (Book Clubs, Bible Study, Women’s Spirituality)

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