To Stand in the Presence of the Ancients! – Enheduanna, Part 1 by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Ishtar controlling a lion ca 2334-2154 BCE

To be in the presence of antiquities is powerful. They carry an energy which is palpable.  I found this to be true at the recent exhibit at the Morgan Library in Manhattan that ran from October 14, 2022 through February 19, 2023. 

Enheduanna is a fascinating woman who lived in the lands of Mesopotamia circa the 23rd century BCE. She was a priestess who was also a writer and chronicler of her times. She named herself in her writings making her the first known author of any written works in history. She was so influential that for centuries after her death, scribes learned their craft in scribal schools by reading and copying out her work. Scholars have referred to her as the Sumerian Shakespeare[1]

Her main temple was in Ur, the very city that hundreds of years later gave rise to the biblical priestess Sarah and her husband, Abraham. We can only image how much they had been influenced by her.

Continue reading “To Stand in the Presence of the Ancients! – Enheduanna, Part 1 by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

Esther’s Choice — And Ours by Joyce Zonana

The Book of Esther tells a story in which women’s power is not so much repressed as asserted. The king who banishes one queen finds himself submitting to the will of another. Numerous women writers of various ethnic, religious, and racial backgrounds in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries have found inspiration in the stories of both Esther and Vashti’s disobedience to an autocratic king.

jz-headshotThis year, February 28th, the 14th of Adar on the Jewish calendar, is the first night of Purim, a holiday the orthodox Chabad organization blithely calls the “most fun-filled, action-packed day of the Jewish year.” Purim is celebrated with two full readings of the Megillah–the Book of Esther–in synagogues; whenever the tale’s villain Haman is mentioned, congregants drown out his name with noisemakers and foot-stomping. Children and adults masquerade and often cross-dress. Plays are performed; Haman is burned in effigy. After a daylong fast, everyone shares a festive meal, where drinking is encouraged, even mandated:

A person should drink on Purim until the point where he can’t tell the difference between “Blessed is Mordechai” and “Cursed is Haman. (Talmud – Megillah 7b; Code of Jewish Law 695:2)

It all sounds like great fun. But what exactly are we celebrating when we celebrate Purim?

Continue reading “Esther’s Choice — And Ours by Joyce Zonana”

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