Tradescantia Zebrina .:. The Wandering Jew

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tales and opinions of the wandering Jew

So Much LGBTQ Jew News!

cross-posted from Jewschool.

In many cities and towns across North America (and the world), June is Pride month, honouring and commemorating the Stonewall Riots of June, 1969 and the start of the gay rights movement. Keeping with the Pride/LGBTQ theme, I have five things of interest to queer and transgender Jews (and their allies).

1 – For those who haven’t yet seen it, Trembling Before G-d, a documentary about the lives of Orthodox and Hasidic gay or lesbian Jews is now online, is streaming at Hulu.

2 – Jewish Mosaic let us know about Kol Tzedek, “an alliance of Jewish organizations working together in unprecedented ways to include transgender people in all aspects of Bay Area Jewish life.” (Additionally, they have a second focus: marriage equality and fighting prop 8.)

Over the past year, we met with a plethora of community members and rabbinic leaders to informally explore how transgender and gender variant people currently interact, or not interact, with the organized Jewish community. We compiled a report based on our anecdotal evidence and shared experiences of the perceived organizational, social and ritual needs of transgender and gender variant persons, and our wish to understand and serve this community’s needs better.

Our objective was to collect enough initial information to compile a brief report to present to the new CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (SFJCF), Daniel Sokatch. We had a very successful meeting in which we presented the report and had an enthusiastic and receptive conversation.

The report is available in PDF here. I share it with you guys in light of their hopes for the report: “Finally, with both confidence and humility, we offer this report to inspire similar initiatives elsewhere in the United States, within and outside the Jewish community.”

3 – dlevy says “Hi.” He’s too busy to post right now, so asked me to mention him in this post about the gays.

4 – Mostly for some laughs, because does anyone actually take the Westboro Baptist Church seriously?!, check out this Slog video. At a protest outside the Stroum Jewish Community Center in North Seattle this weekend, they held signs including “Bitch Burger” (watch the video for an explanation on that one; it had me and my friends scratching our heads), “God Hates Israel,” “God is Your Enemy,” and “Antichrist Obama” – in addition to their boringly trite “God Hates Fags.” The Slog reports:

I know a lot of people may still be wondering, what exactly *is* a bitch burger? And/or is a CRAPuccino a drink that was invented in Seattle? Well, I tried to get some answers for you. Also stay tuned for Part II, where I try to find out why God suddenly hates President Obama… and, in Part III, a real live Israeli Jew asks “The Hot One” what he really thinks of anal sex.

5 – Last week CBST (Congregation Beth Simchat Torah: “New York City’s synagogue for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews, our families, and our friends”) finally released their new siddur, B’chol L’vav’cha / With All Your Heart. The siddur is for Shabbos evening services only.

We try to create the most meaningful experience of prayer we can. Jewish prayer is not a spectator sport. Each week will be different from the week before. Not every week’s service will “work” for every person. Not every service will give you what you came searching to find. But if you hang in there, if you come back regularly, the fixed portions of our liturgy and the weekly variations will most likely begin to speak to you and address those needs you felt keenly and those you didn’t even know you had. [p.14]

I use this excerpt by way of showing what CBST is trying to do with this siddur. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: america, gender, hebrew, homophobia, judaism, politics, queers, religion, seasons

Here comes the sun!

[Cross-posted to Jewschool.]

One year ago, BZ alerted us that Birkas Hachamah would be coming up in one solar year. Today was that day.

If your morning was at all like mine, it started with an astronomy lesson, around 5:30am, while standing outside in a huddle of shivering Jews. Through telescopes, we looked at the planets, all of which were visible this morning (except for Saturn, which had already set). We davened shacharis inside as the sun rose above the horizon and warmed up the beis midrash. Then we had a siyyum l’bechorim and bechoros so that those of us who are first borns wouldn’t have to fast today. Fittingly, the siyyum was on Masechet Hachamah, which meant we had more astronomy lessons, as well as some math, physics, history, and theology. Back outside for Birkas HaChamah, praising G!d for having created the sun (and everything else), and for burning chometz.

… All this before 8am. A full morning indeed!

I’ve been impressed by the number of tweets and Facebook updates related to Birkas Hachamah. People gathered on college campuses and beaches, in parks and stadiums. Did you do anything? Where? What would you suggest doing similarly, or changing, for Wednesday, April 8, 2037?

Filed under: judaism, seasons

On a snowy day…

Over on Jewschool, there are some great reactions to World Wide Wrap (the tefillin wrapping rap video).

Highlight of the day? Having the cute baby fall asleep on my chest.

Lowlight of the day? headdesking, repeatedly, as I try to be productive.

It’s time for a walk in the snow.

Filed under: judaism, random, seasons, work

Israel bound

I want to write a post about how I’m going to Israel tomorrow, for work. But each time I’ve tried to start this post, the verb I’ve used hasn’t set the right tone. So I will not strive for poetics. Instead, I’ll say that I’m going, and will be back in New York on January 19th. See you on the other side.

Filed under: israel, judaism, palestine, politics, random, travels, war, work, wtf?

13

Over on Jewschool, Dlevy and I posted a review and commentary of 13. Check it out there.

Filed under: friends, judaism, queers

1000 words x 2

Caught up on my photo-uploading. There are now albums from the crazed NY-Mtl-NY move, and autumn in New York.

IMG_0041 marisa-bday-11
Crazy quick road trip and moving. Driving up to Montreal, enjoying the local foods (poutine! bagels!), packing up the uhaul truck, and back down to NYC. Next night: moving furniture from Brooklyn with the roommates. (September) The usual suspects: International Pickle Festival; cruising the waterfalls and a birthday, with parents; prepping for Sukkot, with challot and shopping on the Lower East Side; roomies; foliage; produce from the co-op. (September-November)

Filed under: america, canada, family, friends, good eats, home, judaism, parties, photos, random, seasons, travels

How To Avoid Dying (and other mishegas)

First, cross-posted from Jewschool is a short piece on the power of prayer:

“A study published by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, strongly suggests that regular attendance at religious services reduces the risk of death by approximately 20%. The findings, published in Psychology and Health, were based on data drawn from participants who spanned numerous religious denominations.

“To evaluate the impact of religiosity on mortality and morbidity, the investigators looked at variables including self-report of religious affiliation, frequency of religious service attendance, and religious strength as well as comfort, in relation to coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. It is important to note that the study did not attempt to measure spirituality; rather, it examined self-report religiosity measures (irrespective of the participant’s religion).

“Those attending religious services at least once per week showed a 20% mortality risk reduction mark compared with those not attending services at all. These findings corroborate prior studies that have shown up to a 25% reduction in such risk.” [Read more.]

I would like to thank the various independent minyanim that I attend on a regular basis for existing as, it seems, they’re to thank for my recent “got off easy” car accident. (What? I’m not properly understanding the conclusions?)

And for some more random fun, highlights from the RSS reader. (I’ve had a lot of time to catch up on the blogs these past couple days…)

Filed under: america, health, homophobia, judaism, politics, queers, random, recipes, wtf?

F#ck Yeah!

I’d like to add a word (or several) to Shamir’s prayer for voting post.

There are a couple prayers that I always skip during services. I have various reasons for my minhag, but on Saturday? I said the “prayer for [y]our nation” for the first time. I felt it was really important to add my voice to the prayer.

I was especially moved by someone sitting nearby who enthusiastically stressed a few of the phrases; were it not Shabbos, I would have raced home and written down what he emphasized. Alas, two days later, I have forgotten.

But! I would like to share how the prayer was ended. As the congregation said “amen” in unison, this individual said “fuck yeah!!”

It was great.

May we all have a “fuck yeah” moment tomorrow night as the results come in.

Filed under: america, judaism, politics

Cooperation With the Jews

One would think, after a month of not blogging (quite a dry spell for me), that I would have a nice long post to share. Eloquent typings of a month gone by, lessons learned, insight sought, morals immortalised. And yet, all I have for you is a lovely news story.

I recently had a conversation with my step mother about Jews using their position as immigrants to North America, and their success at integration into this society and climbing the socio-economic ladder, to mentor current new immigrant groups. She asked if I knew of any examples of such a partnership; I was sure it existed, but couldn’t think of any off hand.

Today, my father sent me this article:

Somalis reach out to Jewish community

Oct 29, 2008 04:30 AM

Nicholas Keung
Immigration/Diversity Reporter

A first-generation Somali Canadian immigrant, Toronto law student Ayan Hersi didn’t know whom to turn to for advice and help pursuing her career.

But an innovative program, announced yesterday, is expected to give the 27-year-old woman and youth from her 250,000-strong community – one of Greater Toronto’s and Canada’s most impoverished – a needed lift by matching them with mentors from the more established Jewish community.

“Our generation is still young and the future is in our hands. Unlike others, we can’t call so and so and ask for help,” said Hersi, who has an undergraduate degree in equity studies, political science and African studies, and is pursuing a law degree at University of Toronto.

“We always have to go outside the community for help,” she added. “I am the first in my family to have graduated from a university, and studying law.”

The unusual partnership between the Canadian Somali Congress, the United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto and the Canadian Jewish Congress is the brainchild of the Canadian International Peace Project, a non-partisan charitable organization that helps bring together diverse groups to work on peace, security and development projects.

Hersi is paired with James Morton, past president of the Ontario Bar Association, whose Jewish immigrant family arrived in Canada in the 1960s from Europe via the U.S.

Mark Persaud, peace project founder, said the Somali community has identified the lack of mentorship opportunity as a huge disadvantage for its young people. He hopes the program can be a model for future initiatives.

Wonderful! I hope it’s reaching beyond the legal sector as well.

Filed under: canada, cooperation, judaism

Shanah Tovah!

The challahs are cooling, which makes this the perfect time for a post.

Wishing you a sweet, healthy, just, happy New Year.

לשנה טובה ומתוקה

xo,

Feygele

Filed under: good eats, judaism, seasons

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