Jewish Heroines Then & Now
Categories: Home Page, News Tags: Bible, biblical study, Rabbi Rachel Ain, Real Housewives of the Bible
IMG_4510Touting female empowerment, Rabbi Rachel Ain of Sutton Place Synagogue started off class by quoting Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg saying, “Women need to sit front and center if they want to be heard.” Similarly, the Bible’s matriarchs led by example demonstrating their rich influence and strong presence be known. Rebecca lied to Isaac to protect her son’s birthright thereby propelling Jewish lineage. As in the cases of Rebecca, Pharaoh’s midwives and Queen Esther, Rabbi Ain tied and defended these ethical missteps in light of the harsh stakes at hand. Faced with undue pressure under difficult circumstances, these women made complicated and sometimes messy choices to balance their own needs, the needs of their families and the Jewish community. Did the ends justify the means? Absolutely.
Eve As The Original Human
Categories: Home Page, News Tags: classes, feminism, Park East Synagogue, Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, Real Housewives of the Bible
Before there were any real housewives of the Bible, there were Adam and Eve. Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove of Park East Synagogue reminded our students that the early Biblical text has implicated the way we talk about gender ever since. In turn, patriarchy and misogyny have thrived in many traditions.
The first human was created in the image of God yet entirely mortal thus falling somewhere between angels and other animals. Rabbi Cosgrove went as far as to suggest that the original human created by God may have actually been a woman or perhaps a hermaphrodite since there’s nothing in the text to suggest otherwise. This proto-human being was the first to receive the rule not to eat from the tree of knowledge so when Eve goes for it later, we are not quite sure if she knew it was forbidden. Soon, a fitting companion was cast from the the side of the first being, which cements the enduring hierarchical relationship.
Once they eat from the tree, their perception changes at once and they are soon banished from the Garden of Eden and punished with hard labor and childbirth respectively. The man will be the woman’s object of desire, but he shall cling to his wife. As a consequence, Eve is renamed because she is no longer derivative of man, but mother of all life. This story may be about Adam OR Eve, but perhaps the larger story is about the tragic figure of God who wrestles with parental duty and disappointment when humanity’s weaknesses shine through.
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