By Talia Makowsky
This Thursday evening is the start of Shavuot when we’ll celebrate receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai and the spring harvest. Traditionally, Jewish communities will read the Book of Ruth, the story of Ruth choosing to join her mother-in-law, Naomi, and become part of the Jewish People.
Ruth’s choice to follow Naomi is a radical act of self-determination in a world where being a widowed woman was to be at the bottom of the social ladder. When Naomi urges Ruth to return to her homeland and avoid becoming an impoverished refugee in a strange land, Ruth persists in choosing to follow Naomi.
Even more radical is that Naomi ultimately lets Ruth choose her. And she chooses Ruth back. The two become a family forged through grief, heartbreak, and fierce devotion. This love, strong and unyielding, is a queer love of two marginalized members of society.
The world is full of heartbreak right now. Every anti-LGBTQ+ law passed, every politician who speaks hatred, every young person lost because they didn’t have the love that Ruth and Noami shared – all of it breaks my heart. This Shavuot, instead of shutting down, I’m leaving my heart open and vulnerable in order to strengthen my own family and community, so that we are unbreakable in the face of cruelty.
This Shavuot, I invite you to join me in choosing love and in leaving yourself open to being chosen.
PS: Read more reflections on Shavuot and chosen family from Rakhel Silverman, Keshet’s New York Education and Training Manager, here.