“Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington!” – it’s an old song dating back to music-hall days. Until quite recent times women did not appear on the stage. Female parts were played by men and female voices were provided by choir boys.
I am not sure who the original Mrs Worthington was, or even if she really existed – but maybe it doesn’t really matter. The issue was not Mrs. Worthington herself, nor even Miss Worthington, but the role of daughters in the public arena.
In the Bible, however, the word “daughter” has a place all of its own. Today’s haftarah is an example: Ronni v’sim’chi bat Tziyyon, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion!” (Zech. 2:14).
It is not a specific female that is being addressed, nor even an actual person, but the people of Israel symbolised in feminine terms. Bat, a daughter, is a common figurative description of a land, a city, a people or even a village. It is a delicate compliment to women, conveying the idea of a loving relationship and of hope for the future.
Whatever happened to Mrs Worthington or her daughter, the Daughter of Zion – and her sister or clone the Daughter of My People – are constantly on the stage of human and Jewish history.