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This is the blog of Susan Dworkin, author, playwright, environmental advocate, feminist, grandmother, songwriter and audiobook producer, all of whose attempts at retirement have failed.

As a Driven Leaf: Why Has a Great Classic Novel Remained So Contemporary?

When I was producing audiobooks of great Jewish fiction, I went to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York to get some advice from the literature department. A professor there told me that important Jewish novels often dealt with “the eternal challenge of that great Greek sea.” He was using the Aegean as a metaphor for the tempting glories of other cultures, materialism, physicality, art, music, all the pathways that jump what Cynthia Ozick calls "the fence of Torah" and provides the conflict that besets the heroes and heroines of so many really terrific Jewish books. (One of them is Ozick’s soul-touching novella, The Pagan Rabbi.

Few stories have dramatized that conflict so brilliantly as Rabbi Milton Steinberg’s As a Driven Leaf. This action-packed historical novel stars as its anti-hero, Elisha Ben Abuyah, the apostate rabbi, friend of Rabbi Akiva and the great woman scholar Bruria. Set against the background of Bar Kochba’s nationalist revolt against Rome, the book is a classic that makes the study of the rabbinic period pure pleasure.

Audible carries our award-winning audiobook version, read by the golden voice of George Guidall. And now I've added a lively new Listener’s Guide, read by Melissa Wolff.

The Listener’s Guide places the characters of As a Driven Leaf in history. It details the themes of the book — the struggle between Rome and Israel, between activism and comfort, between Jewish learning and the wild temptations of “that great Greek sea.”

For teachers, for students, for just plain seekers after a wonderful story, As a Driven Leaf with its new Listener's Guide, is a mesmerizing audio experience, now available for one low price from Audible.

Listen to excerpts:
Audiobook | Listener's Guide

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