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The Sisters Weiss: A Novel
by Naomi Ragen

Published: 2013-10-15
Hardcover : 336 pages
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In 1950’s Brooklyn, sisters Rose and Pearl Weiss grow up in a loving but strict ultra-Orthodox family, never dreaming of defying their parents or their community’s unbending and intrusive demands. Then, a chance meeting with a young French immigrant turns Rose’s world upside down, ...

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Introduction

In 1950’s Brooklyn, sisters Rose and Pearl Weiss grow up in a loving but strict ultra-Orthodox family, never dreaming of defying their parents or their community’s unbending and intrusive demands. Then, a chance meeting with a young French immigrant turns Rose’s world upside down, its once bearable strictures suddenly tightening like a noose around her neck. In rebellion, she begins to live a secret life – a life that shocks her parents when it is discovered. With nowhere else to turn, and an overwhelming desire to be reconciled with those she loves, Rose tries to bow to her parents’ demands that she agree to an arranged marriage. But pushed to the edge, she commits an act so unforgivable,  it will exile her forever from her innocent young sister, her family, and all she has ever known.

Forty years later, pious Pearl’s sheltered young daughter Rivka suddenly discovers the ugly truth about her Aunt Rose, the outcast, who has moved on to become a renowned photographer. Inspired, but nave and reckless, Rivka sets off on a dangerous adventure that will stir up the ghosts of the past, and alter the future in unimaginable ways for all involved.

Powerful, page-turning and deeply moving, Naomi Ragen's The Sisters Weiss is an unforgettable examination of loyalty and betrayal; the differences that can tear a family apart and the invisible bonds that tie them together.

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Discussion Questions



How are Rose and Pearl brought up? What are the elements you find positive, negative?

How would you describe the relationship of the parents to their children? What do they expect from them? In what way is this different, similar to the way in which you were brought up?

Given her upbringing, can you envision Rose’s life having turned out very differently? In what way would this have been better for her? In what way would it have been worse?

What relationship does Rose have with the men in her life? In what way does her upbringing play a role in these relationships, and in what way is it very different?

How would you describe the relationship between Rose and Pearl as children, and then as adults? In what way does this evolve, and in what way does it stay the same?

How would you describe the role religion plays in the way the sisters’ lives play out?

How would you describe the role of the Kavod Harav in this story? What do you see as the real motivation behind his behavior?

In what way are Hannah and her cousin Rivka the same, different? In what way does their relationship mimic that of their mothers? In what way is it different?

What is Hannah's thesis trying to say about women? In what way does it relate to the novel?

How did you feel about the ending of this book? In what way would you have changed it? In what way did you find it satisfying? (Courtesy of Naomi Ragen)

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  "Look into the lives of religious jews"by mssrose (see profile) 03/13/16

Seeing how others live is closed communities

 
  "THE SISTERS WEISS by Naomi Ragen"by [email protected] (see profile) 12/23/13

Rose and Pearl grow up in an ultra-orthodox home in New York with a Rabbi father and ultra-observant mother. Theirs is a loving but strict family, requiring absolute obedience from the girls... (read more)

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