Siona Benjamin, India/USA
Parashat Naso deals with the plight of the sotah, a woman accused of adultery, who obliges to drink a muddied potion in order to establish her innocence or guilt. Her body is no longer her own. But why must only a woman endure such a trial? What of male adulterers? Who but men would do this to a woman? And whose parasha is this anyway?
In my version, the sotah is ultimately unscathed, unblemished, untouched. Her soul remains intact, untainted and not destroyed by the judgments, false or true, though the name sotah is forever inscribed on her soul. Isha — “woman” in Hebrew and the ruling goddess in Sanskrit — emerges triumphant as she endures the tests that prove her strength and infinite endurance.
Professional Background Siona Benjamin is a painter, born and raised in Bombay and now residing in the US. Her work reflects her background of being brought up Jewish in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. She has been featured in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Art in America. She was a Fulbright Fellow in 2011–2012. Benjamin has an MFA in painting and in theater set design.