by Rachel Kadish
In our increasingly digital age, the value of the tangible written word that one can hold in their hands is often questioned. Yet as is shown in Rachel Kadish’s The Weight of Ink, paper can prove to hold more than just words conveyable on a screen. This historical medley intertwines the lives of two women, living centuries apart yet connected by paper and ink. The Weight of Ink embodies a story of resilience, of faith and of the connections and histories that surpass even the bounds of time.
We meet two women, separated by centuries. Ester Velasquez is a scribe working to write the words of a blind rabbi. Helen Watt is an ailing professor with a love of Jewish history. When a former student of Helen’s reconnects, having discovered historic documents hidden within the walls of his home, she and graduate student Aaron Levy seek to answer questions that the documents raise, starting with determining the identity of the documents’ author: the elusive “Aleph”.
The plot of The Weight of Ink is complex and the text is constructed in such detail that one cannot help but wonder if they are capturing everything; it seems that every phrase, when read a second time, reveals something new. Kadish explores Judaic themes and connections beyond faith, asking what it means to be born into Judaism, what bridges may be crossed and what boundaries must always remain. I loved this book for its intricacies; I could see every scene described and could imagine myself in each situation. Though a long and complex read, I recommend this book for history-lovers and for any reader looking to immerse themselves in a reality that though set centuries away, can be easily understood.
The Weight of Ink is part of the Ben and Esther Dayson Judaica Collection at the Richmond Public Library.