Servant-Class Mothers Matter!

We don't usually refer to nannies, housekeepers, and homecare attendants as "servants" these days. But whatever they are called, most domestic employees are still excluded from basic federal labor law protections.

What if our domestic workers were also our mothers?

Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel are usually invoked as the four matriarchs of the Jewish people. But that excludes Bilhah and Zilpah, the domestic servant-mothers of four of Jacob's sons. Bilhah and Zilpah are routinely dismissed as surrogates and concubines, even though Biblical and rabbinic sources affirm them as mothers and wives. Join us on the Festival of Revelation, as we make these invisible women visible. See below for details!

Leah Zilpah Rachel Bilhah

The Intersectional Challenge of Our Servant-Class Matriarchs

When is a “concubine” not a concubine? Here is a Biblical case study of identity and power at the intersection of gender and social class. This session will highlight the ancient rabbinic tradition of "six corresponding to the six matriarchs,” as we consider the servant-class mothers of one-third of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. We will examine their relationships with the co-wives / possibly half-sisters who remain their primary mistresses. We will explore ways to move beyond our own social biases toward a more inclusive understanding of our ancestors for today’s complicated times. And yes, we will uncover authentic, intersectional options for evolving that Seder counting song forward. LEARN MORE!