Parashat Shemot in Yahadut Aleph
In Yahadut Aleph –our 4/5th combination classes the students continued their study of the weekly Parasha this week with the first Parasha in the book of Shemot. It is aptly named also Shemot.
In the parasha of Shemot we learned about the midwives of Egypt. This is one of earliest examples of nonviolent resistance in recorded history. The midwives directly refuse to carry out an order of the King of Egypt to throw the Jewish baby boys into the Nile River. It is recorded that they did not listen to the Pharaoh and then we read that they “gave the babies life”.
After this we learned about the Marranos of Spain. During the Inquisition which began in 1492 the Jews were told to either convert to Christianity or get out of Spain. We learned that most of the Jews left, some converted and some “pretended to convert”. They were Jews inside their homes but outside they functioned as Christians. We talked about families that after 500 years of being Jewish like this, all that was left of their tradition was that the mother of the family would each Friday afternoon go into a closet and light 2 candles. She wasn’t sure why, she did it because her mother and her grandmother etc did this each week. Some families even maintained kosher diets and performed Brit Milah on baby boys—all of these connections with Judaism were maintained by the women. Many of these families have now been able to reconnect with the Jewish people and no longer have to keep their Judaism a secret.
From both of these examples, the nonviolent resistance of the midwives in Egypt and the mothers in the Marrano families of Spain we learn that throughout history there have been Women who have worked tirelessly to keep the Jewish people safe and to maintain our traditions even when it was quite dangerous.
Morah Donna, Morah Yiskah and Morah Hannah