Judith in the Enemy’s Tent
This condensed version of the Girls in Trouble curriculum, a project by Alicia Jo Rabins, is based on Alicia’s art-pop song cycle of the same name, and follows individual women through their stories in the Torah. In each lesson, students are encouraged to engage with both the Torah text and Alicia’s songs, to consider the story’s relevance to their own lives, and to generate their own creative interpretations. This curriculum brings Biblical women to life, demonstrating the power of these often under-studied stories, and highlighting the ways in which they can help us navigate our own complicated lives.
- There is often hidden bravery and power within us that we can harness to effect positive change
- Our past informs our present and future selves, but it does not fully determine them
- Creating art about women in Torah continues the millennia-old tradition of interpretation, while bringing female characters to the center of the process
- Why is Judith’s story important?
- How can we bring Judith’s courage and daring into the context of our own lives?
- How does Alicia’s song contribute to our understanding of Judith’s story?
Notes to Teacher
We encourage you to make this curriculum your own. For instance, if there isn’t time during your class period to have students sketch out their own creative interpretations, you can either leave this part out or treat it as an extension activity.
We also encourage you to include as much hevruta (partner) study as possible. If you are new to hevruta study, you can think of it as discussion between two partners who can help each other learn by challenging each other’s first impressions. Breaking the group into pairs and having them read texts out loud, rather than silently, is an essential part of hevruta study.
Lastly, when studying the Torah text, we find it helpful to have students identify every problem, difficulty, or moment of confusion they can find in the text, as if they were on a scavenger hunt. This opens up the door to midrash, the Jewish tradition of creative Torah interpretation, which imagines answers to those questions.
Versions of Judith’s story
Versions of Judith’s story:
- The canonic version, included in the Catholic Bible. This is probably the most famous and widely read version of Judith’s story.
- An English translation of a medieval Ladino version can be found in The Torah Anthology vol. 13 pp. 225-237 (Moznaim Publishing, 1982).
- For Hebrew readers: the full Hebrew text of the medieval Midrash Ma’aseh Yehudit from the collection Hemdat Hayamim.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Judith in the Enemy’s Tent." (Viewed on September 21, 2023) <https://jwa.org/teach/girlsintrouble/judith-in-the-enemys-tent>.