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Sue Jaye Johnson

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Woman in silhouette, looking sorrowful

“I am a woman of sorrowful spirit.”

This is how Hannah describes herself in the Haftarah portion we read on the first day of Rosh HaShanah. She claims her sorrow.

Hannah's greatest desire was to have a child. In a world in which a woman's worth was determined by her ability to bear children, the fact that Hannah could not meant enormous sorrow, as well as shame. It was a shame that Peninah, Elkanah’s other wife, capitalized on, intending to make Hannah feel less-than. Hannah didn't need reminders. She had already internalized the shame and disappointment until she became a...

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