What does it mean to be hero in Judaism, and who to me represents that more than anyone?
For me, a hero is someone who in spite of adversity, still manages to build a world around her that is for the sake of growth, of positivity and of Shalom (peace).
My personal model of this sentiment, and a woman who has lived and continues to live with the models the Torah sets out, is…you guessed it, my mother.
My mother, once Tanya Maria Robertson, now Shulamis Geulah Rothstein, taught my brothers and me so many things! Among them is the idea that commitment, determination and hope are the necessary tools needed in order to change troubles into triumphs. She, like a great lioness, raised us to think, to feel and to respond to the needs of our people, regardless of religious affiliation, skin color or garb.
My mother’s conversion to Judaism over 30 years ago furthers the message of Solomon and Ezekiel, and deeply roots my family in what it means to be a Jewish woman (though there are many praiseworthy versions of this title).
The rabbis ask, why was it Noah, and not Adam, who was given the role to save human, animal and plant life before the great flood? Some offer the explanation that Noah, unlike Adam, had no sin attached to his name, and therefore he was more fit for the role seeing he was the most righteous of his generation. Others suggest that Noah was simply in the right place (or wrong, depend on who you ask) at the right time.
Former chief rabbi of Israel, and survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau said the reason why it was Noah and not Adam is because Noah, unlike Adam and Eve, had a mother.
Meaning to say, because Noah knew of motherly-tenderness, of deeply divine connection, of careful investment of time and energy, he was more fit than the father of humanity (Adam) to preserve and progress the continuity of the planet.
Growing up in Monsey, New York, one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, most Jews shared a similar sentiment: “Mother’s Day is a Goyish [gentile] holiday. For Jews, every day is Mother’s Day.”