Here’s Aggie, blond young pretty, diamond cross in cleavage, fresh from Florida, now Sarah and Avi’s new nanny in New York. Little baby Isaac, privileged Jew kid loves his new nanny, and Avi likes her too. A lot. Enough to get his hand on her thigh one day when they’re alone at home, and bam – she’s pregnant. And then fired.
Welcome to Genesis, Soloway style.
Family values, unlike what some righteous readers of the bible would want us to believe, are not a Disney movie. The Abrahamic saga is a family mess.
The third portion of the Torah, Lech Lecha, charts the original journey of the Hebraic dynasty, Abraham and Sarah, barren, brave, take a leap of faith away from familiar territory to lesser chartered futures, pick up their lives and travel to an unknown destination that happens to be Canaan, future promised land. Welcome home. Along the way they pick up Hagar, an Egyptian slave girl (some say princess) who becomes a walking womb for so far sterile Sarah. Did she want to do this? Do we pause to ponder?
Eventually there will be two moms, two baby boys, one father, one God with two different names, a brutal split, and the Jewish-Arabic conflict.
But for Jill, my delightful soul sister and most recently creator of much touted indi film Afternoon Delight this isn’t about politics. It’s about desire. The patriarch Abraham is just a dude with an urge, and Sarah is a bitter mom, and Hagar a sexy shiksa and the Torah text is up for grabs reminding us that in the beginning and at the end of the day and often in the middle it’s all about the urge to merge and boundaries broken and the deep desire to be whole, and loved, and held and home. Sexy Aggie, belly growing, homeless, will meet an angel in Manhattan, who will send her back to her employers, like so many other sex workers who end up being held up where they have a roof over their heads.
Hagar isn’t just the first surrogate mom and sex slave in our story. She is also the first to meet an angel and the first to pray and be sure that someone’s listening and help is on its way. Yishamel is born, Abraham and Hagar’s firstborn son whom his mother names God Will Listen.
When it comes to plights of people in our lives and stories, so should we.