"People of the Books" Blog

For Shavuot - A Memory and a Poem

For the holiday of Shavuot, AJL President Susan Dubin wanted to share a family tradition and poem she wrote about the holiday and what it means to her:

I share the book The 11th Commandment and have the children share their own 11th commandment. I also have written several poems that I am happy to share about the story of Ruth:


Orpah

I am alone now.

My husband is dead.

My father-in-law is also gone, as is my husband's brother.

But still I had you, Mother Naomi, and Ruth, my sister.

I know I am not the daughter of your flesh,

But you are the mother of my heart.

I did not share parents with you, Ruth,

But you are my chosen sibling.

And now you, too, must go.

So, I am truly alone.



I cannot come with you like my sister Ruth.

It is not because I love you less, Mother.

My home is not in Israel.

My people are not the children of Jacob.

My god is not the God of Abraham.

I would be a stranger in your land.



When you have returned to your home, Mother,

Will you remember me?

I knew happiness with your son.

He loved me, and I loved him.

If he had lived, I would still be your daughter.

My children would be part of your household.

But you have left me in my own land.

I will never see your face again.

For this I weep.



Good-bye, Naomi.

Your Moabite daughter will sing your praises now and forever.

Good-bye, Ruth.

Hold the memory of your Moabite sister in your heart.


Ruth

When I said that I would follow you,

I did not know where we would go.

I did not know who we would meet.

I did not know.



When I said that I would be one with your people,

I did not know how different our life would be.

I did not know how bitter you would become.

I did not know.



When I said that I would accept your God,

I did not know if your God would accept me.

I did not know if I could truly believe.

I did not know.



Now I know that when my husband died my life was not over.

Now I know that love can be mine again.

Now I know that happiness still awaits me.

Now I know.



Your people have shown me kindness and compassion.

Your kinsman has accepted my love.

Now I am a daughter of Israel even though I was born a stranger.

Now I am home.



Naomi

How can I welcome this bride of my son?

She is not of my people.

She is not of my land.



And yet, she has been a faithful wife.

She has been a devoted daughter.



If she comes with me,

I will have to care for her.

I am afraid that my shriveled heart

Cannot make room for her devotion.



She claims that she desires only to make my people hers,

My home, her home,

My G-d, her G-d.

But what if she grows lonely for her own people,

Her own land, her own G-D?



I know not what awaits me in Bethlehem.

Maybe all she wants is my mother-love.

But I am a bitter woman

Who dares not promise anything.

If she leaves me, I will truly have nothing.

Can her daughter-love sweeten my sour soul?

Return to list

0 Comments