Each year during the Passover seders, we recite the ages-old story of the Jews’ exodus from ancient Egypt – a tale which can seem far removed from our lives today. But each year, we also have the opportunity to breathe new life into the story as we join together to put ourselves in our ancestors’ shoes, and make connections that help bring the story closer to our own reality.
In recent years, modern adaptations of the Ten Plagues have been created, additions (like oranges and olives) have been added to the seder plate and tons of versions of the classic Maxwell House Haggadah have been written. The Exodus story has provided endless inspiration. But what about the story’s main characters?
Some serious game changers starred in the epic story of Passover, and we think they deserve some attention. So this year, Repair the World decided to have a little fun and explore modern day heroes – today’s leaders who work tirelessly on behalf of others and tikkun olam – and see how they remind us of Moses, Miriam, and Aaron.
Next up: Miriam.
Who she was: Miriam was a prophetess and Moses’ older sister. She is best known for leading a group of women in joyous song and dance after the Israelites left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea. Read more about Miriam here.
Why she’s a hero: Service and social justice movements depend as much on celebration and inspiration as they do on serious conversation and action. The Israelites were no doubt exhausted (and scared about their uncertain future) by the time they reached the other side of the Red Sea. But instead of letting spirits drop, Miriam reinvigorated the group through song and dance. Her leadership reminded the Israelites how far they’d truly come, and sustained their energy for the journey ahead.
Modern day Miriam? Here are some modern day women leaders who share Miriam’s ability to lead through song and celebration.
- Regina Spektor The Russian-born singer/songwriter has put her musical celebrity to good use, supporting causes like the Courage Campaign and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, among others.
- Mary J. Blige In 2008, the uber-famous singer, songwriter and producer turned her attention towards empowering women by co-founding the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, or FFAWN.
- Lady Gaga As today’s reigning pop diva she may be controversial, but both on and off stage, Lady Gaga has been a champion of human rights and LGBT rights. She also founded the Born This Way Foundation which empowers young people to celebrate difference.
- Selena Gomez This singer and actress may be young (19), but she’s already deeply involved in service – adding her support to the UR Votes Count youth voting initiative and serving as a spokesperson for UNICEF’s Trick-or-Treat campaign.
- Alicia Keys The R&B singer-songwriter co-founded Keep a Child Alive, an organization that provides medicine, resources and support to families with HIV and AIDS in Africa.
- Tori Amos In the 1990s, Amos was at the forefront of female singer-songwriter community. Today, she continues to make beautiful music. But she’s also a founding member and longtime spokesperson for RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
- Taylor Swift practically lives at the top of the country and pop music charts. But she also spends lots of time on service. Check out First Lady Michelle Obama honoring Swift for her philanthropic efforts.
- Mariah Carey This singer is known for her amazing vocal range, and her long-time support of the Fresh Air Fund (which sends inner-city kids to camp to experience country life) and many other organizations.
- Joan Baez This iconic folk singer has been combining music and world changing for longer than anyone on this list. Throughout her career (which spans five amazing decades!) she’s been a champion for civil rights, human rights, women’s rights, the environment, and many other causes. Most recently she performed at a concert in support of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Who did we miss? Who do you think should be counted as a Modern Day Miriam? Let us know in the comments below, or by tweeting us at @repairtheworld.
Missed our Modern Day Moses’ post? Check it out here!