Posted by Marjie Sokoll
"The world is made up of stories, not atoms." – Muriel Rukeyser
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is making headlines this month. It is not in her role as a Supreme Court Justice but rather in her role as a Jewish woman writing about the important contributions of five brave women in the Exodus narrative.
Her inspirational essay, "The Heroic and Visionary Women of Passover," written for the American Jewish World Service, highlights Yocheved, Moses' mother; Miriam the Prophetess, Moses' sister; Shifra and Puah, the midwives; and Batya, Pharaoh's daughter.
Justice Ginsburg‘s words are an exciting new addition to the telling of the Passover story; her hope being that her short essay will be shared at the Passover Seder. She writes, "On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible – which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative." For many years I have incorporated the powerful story of Miriam and the ritual of Miriam's Cup in our family's Seder, sharing her crucial role in the Passover story. The Jewish Women's Archive and JewishBoston.com also recognized this need and teamed up to create the Wandering Is Over Haggadah, a fully inclusive Haggadah that weaves women's voices throughout the Seder.
Passover is my favorite holiday because the journey from slavery to freedom is so compelling. As the years pass and we gather in our homes, we have a unique opportunity to develop our own Passover rituals and stories that speak not only to the collective Exodus narrative of the Jewish people but also to the precious narrative of our own families.
For 150 years, JF&CS has brought hope and comfort to people who feel marginalized in some way. I am so delighted that someone of Justice Ginsburg's caliber has published an essay highlighting the role of women in the Exodus story. This emboldens all of us, men and women, to reach out to the marginalized and truly help repair our world. As Justice Ginsburg says, "the stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible."
This year Passover begins at sundown on Friday, April 3.
Marjorie U. Sokoll, MEd, Director of Jewish Life and Healing, is the founder and director of JF&CS Jewish Healing Connections, which helps ensure that people feel a sense of connection when facing the challenges of illness, loss, or isolation by offering spiritual and communal supports to provide hope, comfort, and wholeness guided by Jewish tradition. "It is not good for people to be alone." (Genesis 2:18). Marjie also provides spiritual support for the JF&CS Parkinson's Family Support Program, is a founding partner at the Kalsman Institute for Judaism and Health, and holds a certificate of thanatology from the National Center for Death Education.