Celebrating Jewish mothers past, present and future


When I think about Mother’s Day, I think about my mother, my grandmothers and my daughter. 

My grandmothers were both strong women, but so different – actually opposite. One was a businesswoman, creative and ahead of her time, and the other was a gentle, loving, true “Yiddishe Momme.” 

My mother was an energetic, glamorous and creative woman who loved music and the arts. My daughter is a smart, independent woman who is making a difference in the world in the area of social justice.

This is a varied bunch of women, yet there is a part of each of them in me. They handed down their traits to me, and I have passed some along to my own daughter. 

We pass our strength, courage and vulnerabilities to our children whether by choice, or automatically, because it’s in our genes.  And we have a lot to learn from the “original” Jewish mothers.

Lazer Gurkow, rabbi of the Beth Tefilah Congregation in London, Ontario, Canada, wrote an article called “Wisdom of the Heart: Jewish Mother,” which you can read at http://bit.ly/1YIGaWo. He writes about the courage of the women in the Bible, stating, “Sarah didn’t worry about standing up to the violent Ishmael; her son’s safety was at stake. Had Ishmael accomplished then what his descendants have tried to accomplish since, we would not be here today. 

“Rebecca didn’t fear Esau’s wrath, the future of her children was at stake. Had Jacob not received those blessings, there may not have been a Jewish people today. 

“Rachel’s children were in need, and she never hesitated. Her concern was not for herself, but for her children.”

I admire these women, who not only stood up for their children and families, but also changed our history. I often wonder if I have been the best mother, and then I think, maybe not, but I did the best with what I had and knew at the time. I think that’s what we do with our actions and the “wisdom of our hearts.”

Rabbi Gurkow continues in the article, “This is why the Torah identifies the women who helped to build the tabernacle as ‘wise of heart.’ Wisdom of heart pertains to immutable faith and insurmountable strength. Indeed, these were the builders of our tabernacle. These were the true founders of our nation.

“Moses did his part. Aaron did his. The rabbis, judges, teachers and priests all did their parts. Master builders constructed the tabernacle and gifted architects sketched its plans. But it would all have come to naught if not for the contribution of ‘wise of heart,’ the Jewish mothers. These wise women planted the seeds that blossomed into a nation. These wise women sowed kernels of faith and reaped generations of fortitude.”

Let us celebrate our wisdom and the wisdom of our daughters, mothers, grandmothers and those before them who were models of courage, fortitude and faith.

PATRICIA RASKIN hosts “The Patricia Raskin Show” on Saturdays at 4 p.m. on WPRO, 630 AM/99.7 FM. Raskin is a board member of Providence’s Temple Emanu-El.