11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Chesed Lev eh Lev: Using Jewish Social Action to become an Ally for LGBTQ Rights
This interactive workshop will teach students how to become allies for the LGBTQ movement, while keeping in mind a Jewish framework. Come learn about how Jewish social action can influence and support LGBTQ folk in a meaningful way.#
Kate Rafey is the assistant director at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Hillel House. Before working there, Kate was an Americorps*VISTA at Stonehill College. She also has a master's in public administration.
Exceptionalism within the Queer Jewish Experience
We will have a facilitated discussion about exceptionalism within the Jewish and Queer communities. Our discussion will focus on questions such as: when does inward healing of trauma turn into exceptionalism? How do narratives such as "Chosen People" or the Holocaust effect Jewish communities today? How do we hold onto and share formative stories that revolve around traumatic experiences without continually triggering ourselves into a state of constant trauma? How does exceptionalism effect our ability to build mass-based movements against imperialism and state violence?
Tumbell is a 4th year student at Hampshire College. They are a pre-nursing student and study public health and education. Tumbell grew-up going to a zionist Jewish camp. In large part due to their queer identity, Tumbell began to resist the dominant hetero-normative zionist narrative they were given. Tumbell now works to reclaim radical Jewish roots that are grounded in internationalism, feminism, and anti-racism. They are a counselor aat Hampshire College and has forever been curious about relationships of trauma and isolation within their communities and self. Tumbell is a gender queer Jewish american pixie working for a world where we can define our own perimeters of health that are not predicated on the exclusion of others' existence.
GLBTQ rights in Israel
The workshop will deal with issues concerning gay rights in the state of Israel. We will have a historical review of the laws concerning gay rights from the mandatory period to present day. We will review the contemporary cultural status of gays in Israel as well as the current status of transgender rights. It will include a discussion of misconceptions about Israel and civil gay rights.
Itsik Pariente is a lecturer of Hebrew at Smith and Mount Holyoke.
Honeycomb Under Your Tongue: Lesbian-Feminine Divine in the Love Poetry of Song of Songs and the Marriage of Ruth and Naomi in the Book of Ruth
Ever wonder about that steamy love scene where Noami gives Ruth the play-by-play about exactly how to uncover Boaz's "pearls"? This leads to Ruth giving birth to the prodigal child of whom it says, "A son was born to Naomi..." whom she nursed? Or ever been drawn to the honey, oil and myrrh dripping from the doorknobs in Song of Songs? This workshop is a fun and illuminating intertextual analysis of biblical writings that uncovers an undeniable lesbian aesthetic and bisexual storyline, sure to spice up your Passover and Shavuot holidays (when these books are traditionally read). Hebrew and English translations provided, no prior knowledge necessary.
Rabbi Riqi Kosovske is the rabbi of Beit Ahavah, the Reform Synagogue of Greater Northampton. Her writing includes work on Judaism, birth, spirituality and feminist theology. She is the mother of 7-year-old Chanina.
Performing Jewish American Masculinity
Abraham Cahan's The Rise of David Levinsky (1917) and Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint (1969) are two classics of Jewish American literature, but what do they have to say about queer identity? In this text-based study, we will discuss questions of homoerotic desire, narration, and desire in these novels. Discussion will focus on the relationship between the performance of Jewish male gender and sexuality and the implications of that performance for American identity in the 20th century.
Warren Hoffman is the director of arts and cultural for the Gershman Y in Philadelphia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California Santa Cruz in American and Jewish literature and is the author of The Passing Game: Queering Jewish American Culture.
Queer Jews 101
Want to explore how these two identities interact? Want an overview of the historical and present Jewish religious and cultural intersection with queerness? Want an introduction to some of the issues underlying this conference? Whether you're not Jewish, not Queer, neither, or both, this session will be a good orientation for the rest of the conference, and an ongoing exploration of these two identities.
Rabbi Rachel Schoenfeld is Hampshire College's rabbi and coordinator for Religious Identities and Political Intersections. She's also the rabbi of Congregation Shirat Hayam, a Reconstructionist congregation in Marshfield, MA. Rachel is a conference organizer.
Somewhere Between Male and Female: Poetry of Gender Transition
Even for those who are comfortable at one pole or another of the gender binary, it’s hard to explain our experience of gender to someone who doesn’t share it. Trans people generally grow up with little or no language to explain our experience of gender, even to ourselves. For the past few decades, trans writers have worked to fill this linguistic void through memoirs, fiction, and poetry, to enable us to articulate and others to understand who and why we are. In this reading, I will present and discuss poems I’ve written for this purpose as examples of this relatively new and rapidly evolving effort.
In 2008, Joy Ladin, Gottesman Professor of English at Stern College of Yeshiva University, became the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. She has written numerous poems about gender transition, collected in Lamba Award-finalist Transmigration and Forward Fives award-winner Coming to Life, and has written a memoir of transition, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, due out in the spring from University of Wisconsin Press.
Tour of National Yiddish Book Center
We will tour the National Yiddish Book Center, acquaint ourselves with its resources, and learn a little about the contemporary links between queer culture and Yiddish.
Rachel Rubinstein is Associate Professor of American Literature and Jewish Studies at Hampshire College. She is the co-editor of Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon and the author of Members of the Tribe: Native America in the Jewish Imagination. She currently serves as the dean of academic support and advising.
B’tzelem Elohim--Made in the Image of G-d: A Queer/Trans Beit Midrash on Identity, Ethics, and Politics
Please join rabbinical students Leora Abelson, Monica Gomery, and Margot Meitner on a journey through the world of rabbinic text from a radical queer perspective. We’ll be creating a Trans/Queer Beit Midrash where we’ll present different methodologies for “queering the text” as well as exploring the particular Jewish value of “B’tzelem Elohim” (the notion that we are all created in the image of God) and the questions it raises in light of queer identities and oppressions. What does it mean to claim the ethic of b’tzelem elohim when queers have been made to feel like an exception to that value or when our relationship to God is fraught? What does it mean to understand oneself as “being created in the image of God” when one was born into a body that that person would prefer not to inhabit and when one wants to change the body one was born with? You’ll get the opportunity to delve into traditional chevrutah-style (in pairs) study of Jewish text, as well as some creative/experiential engagement with the text. All texts will be studied in English translation (with the option to work in the original if desired).
Leora Abelson recently moved to Boston from Chicago. In Chicago, Leora worked on intersecting social justice issues, including Israel/Palestine, and learned at SVARA, a queer yeshiva. Leora just started rabbinical school at Hebrew College. Leora loves to sing, make and eat food, study Talmud, and build radical, anti-oppression queer communities.
Mónica Gomery is a first-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Boston, MA. She has worked as a theater artist, an educator, a community organizer, a Spanish language translator and interpreter, a grant-writer, an editor for a poetry press, a waitress, and a farmer. Her preferred gender pronouns are "she" and "her." Formal Jewish studies include Yeshivat Hadar, The Drisha Institute Arts Fellowship, and the Adamah Jewish Environmental Fellowship. Previously she has made a home exploring, making art, and working for justice in Providence, Philadelphia, and New York City.
Margot Meitner is in her fourth year studying towards rabbinical ordination at Hebrew College. Margot serves as a Rabbinic Advisor at Harvard Hillel and is also a clinical social worker with a psychotherapy practice specializing in transgender identity. Margot approaches her work understanding the interdependence of individual healing with communal healing, social change, and transformative justice. She strives to create ways to engage with Judaism that explicitly honor diversity and help people see the relevance of Judaism to their lives. Margot enjoys hiking over big hills, snowshoeing, cooking and eating delicious food over loud impassioned conversation with friends, and making Judaica out of found and/or industrial objects.
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