The books of the Torah are strewn with stories of women who don't have the easiest time of it, to put it mildly. There is Miriam, who despite her status as a prophetess was struck down with leprosy for questioning her brother Moses' leadership. Or Hagar, who gave Abraham a son before his first wife Sarah did but almost died in the desert when Sarah had Abraham sent her away. In 1969 sculptor Jacques Lipchitz chose Hagar as the subject of his last massive bronze, now installed at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. To help celebrate the sculpture, Brooklyn musician Alicia Jo Rabins performs with her folk-inflected indie pop band Girls in Trouble, adding a specially commissioned song about the trials of Hagar to their repertoire of tunes about other women of the Torah. Rabins started writing music about biblical women as she worked toward her masters in Jewish women's studies. She formed Girls in Trouble as a creative way of dealing with her thesis. That's right, besides being an accomplished klezmer fiddler Rabins is also genuinely well versed in the Torah. She returns to the museum Sunday as a scholar to talk more about those ancient women and why they inspire her so. The stories are filled with sex and betrayal among complex characters – in other words, ones any modern person can relate to.
Thu., Nov. 17, 7 p.m., 2011