It is not uncommon to open a history book and see a complete profile of a man. A woman, however is at best given a paragraph or a footnote and at worst, ignored completely.
The Jewish holiday of Passover starts this weekend. Though Moses is the protagonist of the story, his story would be nothing without the women around him. Given the many dangers around them, the easier thing would have been to say and do nothing. But instead, they stepped up, helping Moses to succeed and paving the way for Jewish women to do the same in their own eras.
Shifra and Puah: Shifra and Puah are the midwives who were responsible for bringing Hebrew children into the world. Brought before Pharaoh, they are told to kill every male newborn. They claim that they are unable to do this because by the time they get to the mother, the baby has already arrived.
Yocheved: Moses’s mother was facing a parent’s worst nightmare. Infant boys, when discovered by Pharaoh’s soldiers, were taken to the Nile and drowned. The only way she can save her son is to put him in a basket, send it floating down the Nile and pray that he would survive.
Bithia or Batya (sometimes referred to as the Egyptian Princess): Finding baby Moses in his basket as she washes up in the river, it is obvious that this child is of the Hebrew faith. Instead of reporting this discovery and sending him to his death, she adopts Moses and raises him as her own.
Miriam: Miriam is Yocheved’s only daughter. Not only does she watch over her baby brother, but she approaches the Princess, asking if she needs a wet nurse. That wet nurse is her mother. Years later, when Hebrews are wandering through the desert, it is Miriam who leads the former slaves via song to get to the promised land.
Tziporah: Tziporah is Moses’s wife. Though she is Midianite Princess and not of the Hebrew faith, she embraces his heritage as her own. Traveling with him back to Egypt, she encourages Moses to face his destiny and become the man who will lead his people to freedom.
I don’t think it is much of a stretch to say the coronavirus is a major downer, to say the least. It has changed everything about the way we live.
Anything we can do to cheer up and help goes a long way.
On Saturday, Saturday Night Seder aired on YouTube.
Featuring a number of Jewish (and non-Jewish) celebrities, the story of Passover was told in a way that I have never seen.
It was funny, it was charming and educational without hitting the audience over the head.
If there was one part that was the shit, it was Idina Menzel singing Ma Nishtana (starts at 23:53). I’ve sung that song many time over the years, but this is the first time I’ve gotten a chill down my back.
It was also an opportunity to make a worthy donation to the front line workers via the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund.
If the Israelites were able to survive slavery and forty years in the desert, we can survive coronavirus. We just need a little light in our lives and Saturday Night Seder provided that.
What is Passover without the retelling of the Passover story, a la, Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956)?
Moses (Charlton Heston) believes himself to be a son of Egypt and a member of the royal family. But he is not. He is the son of a Jewish slave. When Pharaoh decreed that the infant sons of Jewish slaves were to be killed, Moses’s mother put her son in a basket. Sending the basket with her son down the Nile, she prayed that her son would be found. The person who found the basket was the Egyptian princess, who raised Moses as her own. As an adult, Moses discovers his true heritage and must goes against his brother, the Pharaoh Rameses (Yul Brynner) to free his people.
This movie, for it’s era is incredible. The special effects are a marvel. While it’s true that the cast is all Caucasian and the acting a little over the top for my taste, the movie still is a wonder to behold.