Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I am a Jewish Mother

Warning - this is sappy.

Oh dear. My very first Mother's Day as a mother, and I turn out to be a Jewish mother. You know:


"That's a good story! Now tell me where you've really been for the last forty years."


Is one Nobel Prize
so much to ask from a child
after all I've done?

But stereotypes aside, where should we look for models of Jewish motherhood?

Hannah wept for children - this Jewish Wanna-B-Ima is the basis for tefillah. Chava, "Life" herself, Introduced motherhood, with its attendant pain - both birth itself, and the pain of watching your children do things outside your control. Devorah, Rivka's beloved nurse, is a model for adoptive mothers.

Although the mothers in the Tanakh are all different, all with their own charms and foibles, their different relationships to HaShem, they have one thing in common - they are defined in the text by their relationships to others - fathers, sisters, husbands, children.

For a contemporary woman, this is problematic. We are individuals, we have opinions and knowledge and skills, and want to find models for ourselves and our own lives when we look to the tradition. But, although I love my job, my friends, my community, I find more and more that what centers me in the world these days is coming home to my (irascible often righteously indignant, wonderful) husband, my beautiful, perfect, snuggly son. I imagine in the future, as he grows up, and I move through different stages of my life, this will change again. But for now, I am actually quite happy to think of myself as a Jewish mother, much like my ancestors.


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