35: Whither Thou Goest

Ruth the Moabite said she'd follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, anywhere. That blind devotion has since made her an enduring symbol of loyalty, faith and determination. And, just in time for our smorgasbord of cheesecakes, lasagnas and blintzes,

Somewhere between post-Passover fatigue and summer-is-around-the-corner excitement, Shavout tends to be overlooked. But in reality, it is the secret gem of the Jewish calendar: A festival that’s all about strong women, wheat harvests, creamy cheesecakes and receiving the Torah. What else could you possibly want from a Jewish holiday?

And at the center of this wondrous celebration is an unlikely heroine, the Bible’s quintessential convert to Judaism – Ruth the Moabite. Following the death of her Israelite husband, Mahlon, Ruth refused to part ways with her mother-in-law, Naomi. “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you,” she famously told her. “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.” Ruth followed Naomi back to Bethlehem, where she met a man, Boaz. They got married, had a son, and started an illustrious lineage, which supposedly included David, Solomon and Jesus.

Ruth herself has since become a feminist icon, a symbol of acceptance and dedication. In today’s episode, we will hear three modern-day incarnations of Ruth’s story – a trio of tales about determined women who will follow their hearts to the ends of the earth for love, family and companionship.

The original artwork for the episode is by Aura Lewis, and the original music was composed and performed by Ari Wenig. The final song, “At Telchi Ba’Sade,” is by Chava Alberstein. The episode was recorded by Ben Wallick and Paul Ruest, and mixed by Sela Waisblum.

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