Talmud Tales: Ilana Kurshan's new book is inspired by 'Daf Yomi' studies

Kurshan’s Daf Yomi memoir is a testament to how ancient wisdom continues to resonate across generational, gender and cultural divides.

September 5, 2017 14:36
If All The Seas Were Ink: A Memoir By Ilana Kurshan.

If All The Seas Were Ink: A Memoir By Ilana Kurshan.. (photo credit: ST. MARTIN’S PRESS)

What happens when a highly literary and intelligent woman who has just emerged from a traumatic divorce decides to start studying “Daf Yomi” (the internationally synchronized practice of studying one page of Talmud per day and thus completing the entire Talmud in 7.5 years)? A unique memoir like “If All The Seas Were Ink” emerges.

The book opens with the day on which writer, editor and translator Ilana Kurshan, then just short of 30 years old, decided to start studying Daf Yomi. Kurshan had moved to Jerusalem from New York with her new husband for his required rabbinical school year in Israel. But within a few months the couple had become estranged and her husband said he wanted a divorce. Kurshan could have gone back to New York, but she already had a job in Jerusalem and was too shell-shocked to disturb whatever stability was left in her life. What followed were a few years of depression and shame, as well as a loss of faith in love and in herself. She remained in Jerusalem even after her ex went back, and a significant part of what got her through that harrowing period was sticking to her Daf Yomi routine.


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