The Prophetess tells a modern story about Rachel, an American teenage girl called to join a secret community of Jewish prophets. The story weaves Jewish tradition, mysticism, modern Jewish American life, and discovery of Israel, into a coming-of-age story of a girl discovering her power and purpose in life.
The Prophetess: A Novel
January 1, 2013
Courtesy of Evonne Marzouk
- During Rachel’s journey of learning to be a prophetess, the prophets struggle with the tension of teaching her and protecting her. Do you think they were successful at finding the right balance? How might Rachel’s story have been different if they were more or less protective? Now that Rachel has asked them to “tell her things,” how might their relationship change?
- Rachel’s family and friends call her Rachel, but the prophets call her by her Hebrew name, Rahel. A similar dynamic exists with Rachel’s mother, Alisha/Elisheva. How does the use of names reflect different aspects of a person?
- Gifts play an important role in this novel. For example, Rachel enters the story with a necklace from her grandfather, a poetry journey from Lauren, and a make-up set from Maya. During the story, Yonatan gives her a prayerbook, Devorah gives her a blanket, and Jake gives her a ring. How do these different gifts help Rachel along her journey?
- Rachel’s journey teaches her both about Jewish tradition and about the mystical truths of life. Because of what she learns, she is left feeling the need to observe Jewish tradition even if the prophecy were stripped away from her. Can you understand this conclusion? Do you think you would make the same choice?
- Devorah and Noach have a unique partnership. Why do you think she refused his offer of marriage when they were young? Why do you think it took until her deathbed to admit her love for him?
- Devorah, Noach and Rachel’s grandfather each lived through the Holocaust, but managed to keep their faith in the end. How were their post-Holocaust journeys similar and different? How did they each find purpose and the ability to have a good life?
- In this novel, the prophets have the ability to support and uplift each other by channeling G‑d’s light. Have you ever experienced someone uplifting you in a similar way? Have you ever given “light” of some kind to another? What was the experience like? How was it similar or different to the descriptions in this story?
- Yonatan rose from the depths of despair to teach Rachel, because he understood what was at stake. Devorah tells him, “Do not underestimate the resilience of the human heart.” Can you think of other examples or role models for this kind of resilience, in history or in your own life? What lessons can we learn from this?
- Chris seems to understand prophecy long before Rachel has the courage to tell anyone else. Why do you think the concepts of prophecy make sense to him as a Christian? What do you think of their friendship? Do you think their relationship will continue with Rachel in Israel?
- Despite her hesitation, Rachel accepts a friendship ring as a gift from Jake before she leaves Baltimore. How does her relationship with boys evolve throughout the book? What future, if any, do you think is possible for Rachel and Jake?
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