At last night’s first of nine Real Housewives of the Bible classes, Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of New York’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah set the bar high to provoke and compel contemplation and participation. She deconstructed the story of Abraham’s Egyptian concubine, Hagar, from a uniquely feminist standpoint to 150 eager students. She explained how Hagar became a hero for the African American church during the 19th century as both an ex-slave and single mother who secures redemption and exits as a survivor.
Kleinbaum also used this foundational story to tie Judaism to Islam and of course to the history of Jews championing social justice causes like Blacklivesmatter, which may also include Jews of color. Insightful (and outspoken) student questions and commentary left both Rabbi Kleinbaum and students re-thinking traditional interpretations mindful of how these ancient human flaws continue to inform contemporary life.
Eight more classes taught by master scholars spanning the Jewish ideological field will shed their own nuances to better understanding the great matriarchs of the Bible. Individual class and series registration are still available.