The Often Forgotten
There are many stories about Moses and his family in the Bible. However, one of the most important people in Moses' life is rarely discussed. Moses fled Egypt for a time before the Exodus and during this period he met and fell in love with Zipporah, an Ethiopian woman who would become his wife and mother of his two children. During Moses' time away from Egypt, Zipporah saved his life twice - once when he being pursed by police and another when she found a cure for an illness he suffered from. And it was Zipporah (whose name means little bird in Hebrew) who pushed Moses to achieve his mission of helping to free the Jews from slavery. It was Zipporah who convinced Moses to return to Egypt.
And yet, after their journey through the Red Sea, Aaron and Miriam, Moses' brother and sister, actually condemn Zipporah because of her black skin. Moses gets angry and reminds them of their former condition of slavery. Still, later when Moses leaves for Mt. Sinai, Zipporah is driven out of the Jewish community and then eventually killed.
When Zipporah has been portrayed, her Blackness is often erased. For example, her son is depicted as White with blue eyes in a portion of the Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel paintings. And Zipporah herself was portrayed by a blonde White woman in the Ten Commandments movie.
The story of Zipporah and her representation has many parallels to manifestations of racism and sexism of today. Can anyone think of similar ways Black women are treated in modern day? Any examples of Black women who have been erased from history, or even current events? [pause for discussion among guests].
Let us pledge to remember Zipporah and her critical role in the Passover story, and let us strive to ensure that women of color no longer remain invisible or become Whitewashed in our history and in our current society.
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