The First Cup: In Honor of The Named and Unnamed Jewish Women of the Past

Midrash teaches: “The Jews were redeemed from Egypt on account of the righteous women of that generation.” Who were these righteous women? They are the women of the past, the present, and the future.

Some are named. They live in legend.
Some are unnamed. They live in the dew of their mitzvot.
Some are named. They are the women in your family.
Some are unnamed. They are the women yet to be born.
Some are named. We can name ourselves.

Through our kiddush we imbibe the joy of bringing God’s Torah to the world. We can be part of the Divine flow, which encompasses the tears of joy and the tears of pain. We can transform our tears into hesed, lovingkindness, as we transform our kiddush wine to holiness. The named and unnamed; all in the image of God.

We lift the cup of wine and say:

Zot Kos Nikvu b’shemotehen ayle Shelo b’shemotehen Nikvu Kos Miriam Chayim Chazak, Chazak, V’Nitchazek.

This is the Cup of the Named and Unnamed Jewish Women of the Past, The Cup of Living Waters, Strength, Strength, and may we be strengthened.

From A Haggadah: A Telling from a Women’s Perspective, Jewish Federation of Portland, 1999. Used with permission of the author.

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