Episode 7 of Unlikely Conversations: Complicated Women in Scripture

How are common sacred stories about women like Queen Ester and Hagar taught differently in Christianity and Judaism?

This final episode of the first season of the Unlikely Conversations podcast is a lively dialogue between Rabbi Jennifer Hartman and Pastor Andrea Roske-Metcalfe. Together, they explore how they each teach and preach tricky holy passages in a way that keeps female characters complex and layered. Listen for how beautiful things can get when we dwell in the muck of messy human stories and allow women to be multi-faceted.

Note: this conversation uses adult language and addresses instances of sexual assault and stillbirth.


Rabbi Jennifer G. Hartman was born and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio, just outside Cleveland. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Religion from the University of Rochester. She was ordained at the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in New York City in 2010 and earned a Master’s Degree in Religious Education from HUC in May of 2011. Rabbi Hartman brings a passion for Jewish education and engagement to Temple Israel, where she has served as Rabbi for over 6 years. She firmly believes that if we allow it to, Jewish text can inspire us and guide us, helping us to become the fullest human beings possible. Rabbi Hartman passionately serves the community as a board member of Herzl Camp, Jewish Family and Children Services and Yachad Community High School.


Andrea Roske-Metcalfe recently accepted a call to the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) program in Nepal. Previously, Andrea served as the associate pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley, MN. She holds an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary in New York, where she worked as a community organizer for the Poverty Initiative. She’s passionate about writing, storytelling (she won the 2017 Twin Cities Moth GrandSLAM), and making soup (blended ones, especially). She currently lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and two children.

Further Conversation

  • What female figures, in or outside the Bible, were you taught about as a kid? What did you learn about women through these teachings?
  • Who is your favorite female character either in the Bible, a book or a movie. Why do you love her?
  • If you grew up in a monotheistic setting, what were you taught about who God was? How does it make you feel to hear Jennifer and Andrea talk about God as a being that makes mistakes, grows and loves our imperfection?
  • What did you hear from Jennifer and Andrea that you are curious to know more about?

Happy Tangents

  • Watch this short video about the Bechdel Movie Test. Try it out on your favorite movies. How can we honor women in media and in real life?
  • Read this sermon by Amy Courts on Mary and Martha. Jesus does not pit women against each other. How do you see women being pitted against other women in society? What can we do to support the Marys, the Marthas, and all women?