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PAGE 4A By Deborah Rosenbloom HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 10, 2013 Rethinking the Ruth-Naomi relationship WASHINGTON (JTA)--Until recently, I thought of Ruth, the heroine of Shavuot, as a positive role model, a woman who made good choices, was strong and fulfilled. But lately I've been rethinking this and focusing on the strange dynamics of what appears to be an unhealthy, possibly abusive, relationship between Ruth and Naomi, her mother-inqaw. Abuse is about power and control, and abusive relationships are not limited to romantic situa- tions. Any relationship has the potential to be abusive, including relationships among friends andfamilies orbetween bosses and employees. In this situation, Naomi is the more powerfulwoman and takes advantage of her daughter-in-law. A quick recap of the story: The book of Ruth opens as Naomi, accompanied by her two daugh- ters-in-law, Ruth and Orphah, is beginning her journey back to Bethlehem after living in Moab for 10 years. We don't know much about their lives in Moab, except that-Naomi had followed her husband and their two sons there, escaping from the famine in Israel. Both sons had married Moabite women after their father died, and both sons died without heirs. Now Naomi, the lone Jewess, is traveling back to Israel, having heard that the famine has ended. Orphah accompanies Naomi for part of the way before turning back. She already has experienced life with this family--the marriage, the unfruitful relationship, the poverty. She chooses to end their family ties, head back home on her own and take her chances that way. But Ruth instead famously says to Naomi, "Wherever you go, I shall go, where you live, I will live; your peopte shall be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried" (Ruth 1:16-17). Based on these word s and sentiments, the rabbis teach us that Ruth converted to Judaism, accepting all the laws of Israel. Despite the beauty of the words, I find them troubling. Ruth clearly is choosing not simply to choose Judaism but to merge her entire identity with Naomi. Why? I have never understood the attraction for Naomi; it's an odd relationship. Do you see a pattern? By Ed Ziegler before Islamic prayers. The floor-level sinks, would be financed through airport revenue. An airport spokesman, David.Dawson, insisted, ,These facili- ties are for everybody's use." Who is everybody? In 2006 San Diego's Carver Elementary School scheduled breaks so that Muslim students could pray during school time. Also sex-segregated classeswere introduced to conformto Islamicsen- sibilities,while at the same time, pork disappeared from the cafeteria. They also addedArabic classes to the curriculum. Investor's Business Daily edi- torialized, "In effect, Carver administrators have carved out a school within a school expressly for "Muslims elevating them above Christian and Jewish students." In 2007 the Minneapolis Community College announced plans to construct facilities for Islamic prayer--despite having prohibited a coffee cart from playing Christmas carols on campus. Many other schools extended special consid- eration to Islamic students. New York University and more than 15 colleges and universities have announced plans to install footbaths, orhad them installed. This includes Boston University, George Washington University and Temple University. And all of this at the insistence of the Muslim Student Association--a Muslim Brotherhood organization. A little different twist with Lina Morales who, for 10 months held a job at Rising Star, a telecom company in Florida. One day, in 2004, she was eating a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich at work. She wag summarily fired for violating a company rule against eating pork products on company premises. I wonder what caused such policy to be established and why there was no a warning for the first infraction. There have been far too many Muslims accept- ing positions without presenting what might be an obvious conflict, for this approach too be coincidental. Instead they take employment only to file a law suit if their demand is not acceptable. Theschool demands or the cabbie actions are of a similar nature. What can we do? We must investigate such changes that might challenge our traditions and freedom. Join others and make your voice be heard loud and strong. Do not take the easy way out, for in the future--if not questioned--it will likely hurt all the more. Ed Ziegler is past president of the New Jewish Congregation's Brotherhood. He can be reached at The United States is known for welcoming immigrants seeking freedom and a better life. The vast majority of immigrants embrace our language, customs and laws. However it appears that many Muslims have developed a pattern to change our way of life to satisfy their religion and customs. In 2010 Safoorah Kahn, a new teacher (a Muslim) in the Berkeley, Ill., School District filed a law suit against the school for refusing her a 19-day leave in mid-semester to travel to Mecca. Her request did not meet those set forth in the Professional Negotiations Agreement between the district and the Teachers' Union. In 2007, atsome Targetstores, Muslim cashiers suddenly objected to snning pork and alcohol products because doing so, they said, would conflictwith their religious beliefs. They directed customers to other cashiers. In 2012 Wegman's Food Co. posted a sign at one of its checkout counters to appease a Muslim cashier. The sign directed customers purchas- ing pork or alcohol to other counters. Again, because Muslims are forbidden to consume pork and alcohol. In 2012 Reuters reported that Imane Boudal, a Muslim and a former Disneyland restaurant empl6yee, sued Walt Disney Co. for harassment and religious discrimination, saying that she was fired because she wanted to wear a Muslim head scarf at work. Imane's motive comes into question on two important points. She made her request after being on the job two years and very likely knew company policy. Secondly, Disney said it offered Boudal several options for a costume that would accommodate her religious beliefs, as well as four differentjobswhere she couldwear her own hijab. At Dell Computer, in 2005, 31 Muslims walked off the job after they were denied permission to leave their workstations and pray. Council on American Islamic Relations, as they frequently do, took up their cause and pressured Dell to change its practices to conform to Islam. Dell also felt forced to give its managers training in accommodating Muslim demands. In September 2007 the Indianapolis Airport announced that, as part of a $1.07 billion termi- nal renovation, footbaths would be installed in a restroomusedby cab drivers--s6thattheMuslim drivers could easily perform their rituals required THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. I ISSN 0199-0721 Winner of 41 Press Awards Assistant Editor Kim Fischer Society Editor Bookkeeping Gloria Yousha Paulette Alfonso Account Executives Barbara do Carmo Marci Gaeser Contributing Columnists Jim Shipley Ira Sharkansky David Bornstein Ed Ziegler Production Department " David Lehman David Gaudio Elaine Schooping Gil Dombrosky Caroline Pope HE ITAGE "Wherever you go, I will go." Who is that close to her mother- in-law that she wants to follow her wherever she goes? What was the power dynamic, what was the mystique? And Naomi was quite clear on what this obedience and loyalty would demand--much more than her marriage to a Jewish man did, as it appears that Ruth was able to live as a Moabite, even when married to her Jewish husband. As part of accepting the laws of Israel, Naomi tells Ruth that Jewish women must be modest and refrain from sexualized conduct (Ruth Rab- bah 11:22). The story emphasizes Ruth's modest behavior, as she gathers grain in the fields of their wealthy relative Boaz once they reach Bethlehem. She bends her knees rather than bending over, making sure her skirt covers her legs rather than hitch it up as the other women do (Ruth Rabbah 4:6). But when Naomi tells Ruth to prepare herself to meet with Boaz at night, alone, in the place where he sleeps, Ruth does not protest. "Bathe, anoint yourself, put on clean garments, and lie down at his feet, Ruth is instructed" (Ruth 3:3). So Ruth will approach Boaz at night, alone. Wait, isn't that exactly what she was told would not be permissible if she followed Naomi to Beth- lehem? Hadn't she been told she would have to renounce "immodest" sexualized behavior? And yet, ithout a word, Ruth does as she is bidden. "I will do everything you tell me," she says (3:5). Clearly, Ruth is under the spellofthe dominant Naomi. Why does Ruth follow Naomi's command? To what end? Boaz already had said he would protect her and Naomi. Is Naomi simply toying with Ruth or testing her loyalty? Does she expect Ruth to do whatever she tells her? And once Ruth passes this test, what will be the next demand of CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor Gene Stare Mike Etzkin HERITAGE Florida Jewish News (ISN 0199-0721) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Central Florida Jewish News, lnc:, 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730.'Periodicals postage paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Fern Park, FL 32730. MAILING ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-050'7 emaih subjugation? We find out soon enough. Boaz marries Ruth soon thereafter, and she conceives and bears a son. (Boaz conveniently dies immediately after their wedding night.) And the women of the town said, "there is a son born to Naomi" (4:13). Born to Naomi? The Talmud asks, was it Naomi who bore him? Surely it was Ruth! And the women of the town said to Naomi, "Blessed be the Lord, who had not left thee this day ... and Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it" (4:16). Wait a minute, why isn't Ruth doing that? Did she give up her child to Naomi? Yes. Ruth gave birth to him, but Naomi rears him. Ruth gave up custody of her son! Isolated from her network, having fully given up her identity, Ruth is offered up to bear a child, and then has the child taken away from her to be raised by another. Ruth is the biological mother, Naomi is the adoptivd mother. Ironically, the Midrash tells us that both Orphah and Ruth come from royal families, perhaps to give the future King David a royal lineage, something that Naomi could not do. I wonder when Vread the story of Ruth and Naomi about what their relationship was really like. I know that in my work in the field of violence against women, in which potentially abusive re- lationships are viewed through the lens of power and control, a relationship like this one might be suspect, might raise a red flag or two about power dynamics and questions about the underlying reasons for this behavior. "Wherever you go, I will go." I would worry if that were my daughter. Wouldn't you? Deborah Rosenbloom is the director of pro- grams at Jewish Women International and an editor of JWI's "Rethinking Shavuot: Women, Relationships & Jewish Texts." Netanyahu must take a page from Sadat By Ma Schneier Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may NEWYORK(JTA)--U.S.SecretaryofStateJohn Kerry is correct to describe a new proposal by the Arab League to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as "avery big step forward." Yet there will be no serious movement toward peace until Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responds to the Arab League initiative by evoking the words of the late Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat before traveling to Jerusalem in the later 1970s, vowing "to go to the ends of the earth"--even to the Qatari capital of Doha or the Saudi capital of Riyadh--in order to achieve peace. The new peace initiative,whichwas presented to Ker and Vice President Joe Biden by a Qatari-led Arab delegation in Washington on April 30, would revive--and improve, from Israel's standpoint-- the so-called Saudi Peace Initiative of 2002. That proposal, subsequently endorsedbythe entireArab League, promised Israel full peace and recognition in exchange for a return to its pre-1967 borders. Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jas- sire Al Thani presented the new initiative, which would accept for the first time a modification of those borders. According to AI Thani, "The Arab League delegation affirms that agreement should be based on the two-state solution, on the basis of the 4th of June 1967 line" with the possibility of a "comparable and mutual agreed minor swap(s) of the land." This importantArab League initiative comes in the wake of another significant but little noticed development that also originated in the Gulf: an April 8 resolution by the Kingdom of Bahrain con- demning Hezbollah asaterrorist organization. The outlawingofHezbollah,overwhelmingly passed by Bahrain's parliament, represents the first known instance that an Arab country has used the Tword to describeamilitantArab organization like Hezbol- lah, which has rained missiles on northern Israel and last year murdered Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. When I visited Bahrain in December 2011, becoming the first rabbi to meet with King Ha- mad bin Isa Al Khalifah in his palace, the king told me--as widely reported by the media--that Bahrain and Israel share a common enemy in Hezbollah's patron, Iran, which sits directly across the narrow Persian Gulf from Bahrain and other Gulf states including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. Yet nearly a month after the Bah raini statement, "['here has been no official response by the Govern- ment of Israel. Indeed, whena reporter for the Times of Israel asked the Israeli Foreign Ministry why it has not commended Bahrain for its anti-Hezbollah stand, a spokesma n blandly responded, "If the Bahrainis had wanted Israel to say something, they could have sent us a message through diplomatic channels. Since they didn't, we didn't." well have decided to err on the side of caution in responding to both the Bahraini and Arab League initiatives by waiting to see whether support will hold up across the Arab world. Yet this is one of those critical moments in Middle East history when an excess of caution may doom hopes for a breakthrough by strengthening cynicism and peace process fatigue on both sides. Following the dramatic steps by Bahrain, Qatar and the Arab League, Netanyahu needs to respond in similarly dramatic fashion. Just as Sa- dat fundamentally transformed Israeli-Egyptian relations 35 years ago by declaring his willingness to travel even to Jerusalem, Netanyahu should declare his readiness to fly to Doha or Riyadh to demonstrate his genuine desire for peace--with the Palestinians as well as Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states. The Israeli government and people need to remember that Israel exists and is destined to live forever in the heart of the Middle East, not the Middle West. The Jewish state can only secure its long-term survival by reaching an accom- modation with the Arab world--or at least an important part of it. Thankfully, the positive initiatives of the past few weeks by Bahrain and the Arab League del- egation led by Qatar--neither of which would have taken place without the encouragement and support of Saudi Arabia--make clear that a historic opportunity exists for Israel to build a strategic alliance with the oil-rich states of the Arabian Peninsula. Israel and the Gulf states are endangered by Iran, a'genocidal theocracy with nuclear ambi- tio'fls that vows to destroy the Jewish state and has extended its reach into the heart of the Arab world through skillful manipulation of proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the tottering Bashar Assad regime in Syria. If'Netanyahu seizes the moment to reach a peace agreementwith the Palestinians, thanks to the initiative put forward by the Qataris and the Arab League, there is a, chance that after genera- tions of bitter conflict, Israelis will finally live in peace and security. If, however, the Israeli prime minister spurns this opportunity, he will only empower the extremists in the Arab and larger Muslim world who are determined to destroy the Jewish state. Now is the time for Benjamin Netanyahu to secure a better future for the people of Israel by taking a dramatic step for peace. (Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foun- dation for Ethnic Understanding, is co-author with Imam Shamsi All of "Sons of Abraham: A Candid Conversation About the Issues that Divide and Unite Jews and Muslims," to be published by Beacon Press in September.)