Maggie Anton was born Margaret Antonofsky in Los Angeles, California. Raised in a secular, socialist household, she reached adulthood with little knowledge of the Jewish religion. All that changed when David Parkhurst, who was to become her husband, entered her life, and they both discovered Judaism as adults. That was the start of a lifetime of Jewish education, synagogue involvement, and ritual observance. In 2006, Anton retired from being a fulltime clinical chemist in Kaiser Permanente's Biochemical Genetics Laboratory.
In the early 1990's, Anton learned about a women's Talmud class taught by Rachel Adler, now a professor at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Nearly every Wednesday for five years, she and about six other women met around Rachel's dining room table to study the Steinsaltz Hebrew edition of Tractate Berachot. Teachers, tractates, locations and students changed, but Wednesday remained Talmud night for serious Jewish women scholars. Now Anton continues her studies individually with Rabbi Aaron Katz Ph.D., Professor of Rabbinics at the Academy of Jewish Religion.
In 1997, as her children Emily and Ari left the house and her mother was declining with Alzheimer's Disease, Anton sought new interests. She became intrigued with the idea that Rashi, one of the greatest Jewish scholars ever, had no sons, only three daughters, and that their sons, Rashi’s grandsons, became the Tosafot, the great twelfth century Talmud commentators. Slowly but surely, she began to research the family and the time in which they lived. Much was written about Rashi and the Tosafot, but almost nothing of the daughters, except their names and the names of their husbands. Legend has it that Rashi's daughters were learned in a time when women were traditionally forbidden to study the sacred texts. These forgotten women seemed ripe for rediscovery, and the idea of a book about them was born.
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