Judith: the Jewish Yael?
Hanukkah this year brought up lots of questions for me personally, as well as artistically. With the eight day holiday being early this year, it stood separate from Christmas by almost a month, allowing its light to shine especially bright. This remoteness in time from the Christian holiday season had me considering the impact that Jews and those of other faiths have had upon one another. One has to acknowledge the negatives, yes, but the positive points of communication are there, if one looks. For example, were it not for the Septuagint, (The Greek translation of the Torah plus other writings) we might not have known about the story of Judith.
Who was this Judith? She seems to have been a wealthy, beautiful widow, about whom not much else is said except for her being involved in the resistance against the Babylonian and Assyrian oppressors. She, being secularized (on the outside, at least), was able to act, look, and dress like the dominant culture, and to achieve a certain amount of wealth and freedom. With these tools, and her beauty, she was able to gain entrance to General Holofernes' tent, where she fed him salty cheese (probably feta) which made him thirsty. She then plied him with wine until he passed out. Then she cut off his head!
But wait- doesn't this sound familiar? After all, the non- Jewish woman Yael,(for whom, incidentally, I am named) did the same thing many years earlier, when another general, Sisera, came to her tent because he thought he would be safe there. I wonder whether this is where Judith (whose name means "Jewish woman") got her inspiration?
So as we conclude Hanukkah, let us remember that we can learn from everyone, even those who may outwardly seem to be our adversaries.
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Thank you for reading!)