no-AH, NO-uh

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no-AH, NO-uh by Noa Kalfus - Photo by Sonja Lippmann

Noa. Noah.
Noah. Noa.
What is a namesake and who is mine?

Noa.
The pedestal onto which my parents placed me.
Yet, every day my identity is dashed upon others’ tongues.
Noah.
I am renamed time and time again.

וַתִּקְרַ֜בְנָה בְּנ֣וֹת צְלָפְחָ֗ד
The Daughters of Zelophead came forward.
Braver than anyone before her,
Noa stepped out.
Challenged the patriarchy.
Changed the course of Jewish history.
Noa.

But what about me?

וַיָּ֤סַר נֹ֙חַ֙ אֶת־מִכְסֵ֣ה הַתֵּבָ֔ה
Noah uncovered the ark
Yet, he could not emerge.
And though I open the cottage door,
Four weeks later, I too, am apprehensive.
Listening to the rushing river,
Tracking the crimson cardinals,
I am paralyzed.
Inside.
How can I know it is safe?
What Dove do I have to send?

And I know which namesake G-d would prefer
כֵּ֗ן בְּנ֣וֹת צְלָפְחָד֮ דֹּבְרֹת֒
Noa’s plea was ordained as Divinely just.
But צֵ֖א מִן־הַתֵּבָ֑ה
Come out of the ark.
Though he survived the flood,
Noah never escaped his own passivity.

Who will I be?

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