No One Remembers Their Names

Commentary created together with Ronya Geller 

"I want to study with you Reb Goldie!"

"What would you like to study?" I asked?

"Girls." She answered.

"In the Torah?"

"Yes, silly, we’re supposed to study Torah together."

"OK, which girls should we study?"

We both fell silent. There are no stories of girls in the Torah. Ouch.

We were attending Reconstructionist Family Camp, a trial program that year at the National Havurah Institute, a gathering of individuals and families wanting a more intimate Jewish experience. Each adult was partnered with a child as hevruta "study partner." Each pair would do a presentation to the group on what we ultimately studied together. A precocious and bright nine year old girl, Ronya Geller, picked me as her partner.

OK" she says, "How about mothers." (Oh, no, I think to myself, there is not one mother-daughter dialogue in the whole of the Torah. This is going to be very disappointing for her.)

"Which mothers?" I ask.

"How about Abraham’s mother?" (OY VEY, she is never mentioned.)

"What about Abraham’s mother would you like to know?"

"Well, I was thinking he must have been such a difficult child to raise. Always questioning the value of things, mocking his father’s idols, wrecking them. Probably spent she gave him a lot of time-outs!"

"Sure sounds that way. And how did she feel with him speaking out loud to a god she’d never heard of and couldn’t see!"

"I bet she told her friends that he is a gifted child, that he would discover and invent things they couldn’t even imagine! But rabbi, don’t you think it was terrible that he ran away from home? Wasn’t his mommy very sad? Do they ever see each other again? What does the Torah say?"

"She isn’t mentioned in the Torah. No one remembers her name. I think you have done a great mitzvah, bringing her back to life - we should write down our ideas about her story."

"No one remembers Abraham’s Mother’s name!?"


"Reb Goldie."


"What about Lot’s wife, is that the only name she got?"

"I’m afraid so."

"It says she was turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back."

"What do you think that means? Why was it bad to look back?"

"Reb Goldie, I know why the Torah says Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt. She didn’t really die, you see she looked back like my grandmother did during the Holocaust and she couldn’t stop crying because of what she saw.

And she looked back to make sure all of her family was keeping up with her and when she couldn’t find one of the children, she went back to check.

Where she stood she left this huge pile of salt from her tears. And maybe she really is out there somewhere in the world still looking for one of her daughters. Because that’s what a Jewish mother would do. And if it was my mother, I would still be waiting for her, every day.

Rabbi, this is so sad - no one remembers their names!"