“Is it going to rain for 40 days and 40 nights?” I asked my little son. His chocolate brown eyes grew wide as he looked out our window. “We do have a girl dog and a boy dog”, he whispered. Then he turned and replied, “Not this time, we only have ONE fish.”
This Shabbat, the Torah reading will retell one of its most popular stories, the legend of Noah and the flood. “Tell me about Noah?” My son closes his eyes and envisions the illustrations on his wallpaper. “There is this guy, Noah, who God really likes. God tells him to build this huge ark because there is going to be so much rain, it will flood. Noah needs to get a girl and boy animal of every kind. And he has to take care of them with food and games while they sail around the world. Then Noah sends out a dove who brings back an olive branch and the rainbow tells them they can land.”
“What about Mrs. Noah?” I ask him. His face crinkles. “Ooh she isn’t on the wall. She is probably at one of her sisterhood meetings like you, Mommy”.
Not to take away from this hero, but what about Mrs. Noah? Little is known about this woman except that she had three sons and journeyed with her husband. There are biblical references that suggest her name was Naamah and that she was a descendent of Abraham. I guess Sandy Eisenberg Sasso was wondering too, because she penned the most beautiful tale, “The Story of Naamah, Noah’s Wife”. (Jewish Lights Publishing) In her version, God recognizes how valuable Naamah is not only to her family but to the survival of mankind. He bestows on her the task of gathering all the seeds from every plant and every tree in the land. With God’s heavenly spirit, she flies around accumulating two seeds from every species, then individually stores and classifies each. “Every spore”, God says, “even the weeds!” When the ark is finished, she designates a space for a garden where she feeds, waters and nurtures the essences of life. This is her duty in addition to her responsibilities with Noah. The olive branch is explained as one of her seeds planted by the raven and returned by the dove. Highlighting her importance in this very male parashah.
This mensch is truly a “sisterhood” woman. Naamah doesn’t hesitate when given this incredible task. She assembles her daughters-in-law and together they act as one. This is what WRJ has become for me. We are individuals so unique in our personalities and lifestyles, and yet we come together to accomplish what we are requested to do. It’s this inherent bonding that allows each of us to weather life’s flood of demands. We are women who build our own arks. We are women who sow the seeds of faith. We are the daughters of Naamah and together, as Jewish women, our deeds make that rainbow even more radiant.
Amy K. Wulfe is a third-generation sisterhood member. She is a mother of four sons and a proud member of Temple Beth-El in San Antonio, Texas. Amy is also a member of the WRJ board.