Painting Sarah

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Painting Sarah: The First Mother maintains her hold on the Jewish imagination,

by Jonathan Mark, Sept. 22, 2010

“The First Mother maintains her hold on the Jewish imagination.

What were the first words in the Bible spoken by a Jew?

Was it about monotheism, social justice, the sanctity of land, peace or peoplehood?

Not even close. The first Jewish quote, attributed to Abraham, was about the sexual allure of his wife, Sarah, a woman so magnetic that men would murder just to have her.

“I can that see you’re so beautiful,” says Abraham.

Several millennia later, Sarah is still compelling.

Later this month, thousands of Israelis, mostly Orthodox, many settlers, will make a pilgrimage to Hebron, coinciding with Shabbat Chaye Sarah (Oct. 30) when the Torah reading tells of her burial there.

On the other side of the cultural divide, the Israeli writer David Grossman, a secular Jew and a passionate peace activist who would quickly give Hebron to the Palestinians if he could, is nevertheless every bit as passionate about Sarah.

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