As a member of the GLBTQ community and a rabbinical student, it is clear to me that the words “there is no need” do not apply to places where Jewish and Queer communities intersect. There is so much need. Before these needs can be addressed, they need to be made visible. GLBTQ Jews need to be seen as vital members of our GLBTQ communities. We need to be seen and valued as Jews who have vast interests and abilities and life experiences that can, and already do, enrich Jewish life. We, GLBTQ Jews, also need to stand up and claim Jewish community, Jewish tradition, and Jewish law for ourselves.
At the festival after the parade, my friend Becca slowly walked me over to the Keshet table. By putting my name on the Keshet sign-up sheet, I was stating that I can’t just be a gay man; I’m a gay Jewish man—my gay identity and my Jewish identity work together.
Aurora Mendelsohn of Rainbow Tallit Baby discusses the use of the word "egalitarian" in different aspects of Jewish life on Jewschool. She writes, "I could not help channeling Inigo Montoya; “Egalitarian…You keep using that word.
To mark the 5th anniverary of Hurricane Katrina, we got in touch with JWA Board member Carol Wise and her granddaughter Zoe Oreck, two Jewish women who experienced the storm and its aftermath first-hand. Carol Wise has served as President of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, and Chair of the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. She now serves on the Executive Committee and Board of the Hillel International Foundation and as President of Tulane Hillel. Zoe Oreck is a senior at the University of Georgia majoring in PR and History.
What exactly is Jewish food? This is the question that most people will invariably ask me after I tell them that I research Jewish food. Most people ask this question with interest, while others are incredulous that there could be Jewish food. Yet, whenever I am confronted with this question I realize that one simple answer cannot work to define this term that eludes any strict definition.
I walk into what is undoubtedly the most beautiful house on campus. Its simplicity allows for the exuberance of the people within it to shine. The rabbi opens the door, a young father of twins, all smiles and joking about having to convince me to attend the university even though my mind was already made up. I follow my friend Tobah, a Conservative Jew who has yet to skip a week of coming to the multi-denominational Havurah, into the living-room-turned-synagogue. We squeeze onto a couch with a sisterhood of freshmen and sophomores who make up the majority of the Kabbalat Shabbat crowd.
Media coverage of Hurricane Katrina focused on the poorest communities of New Orleans and initiated a national discussion about poverty, power, and racism. The JWA's Katrina’s Jewish Voices project is interesting in that it focuses on the experience of a different, relatively affluent, community. It would be misleading to ignore the fact that the Jewish community of greater New Orleans was relatively privileged in terms of status, education, wealth, and other financial resources like insurance. In a recent article in the Jerusalem Report, Jayne Guberman, project director of Katrina's Jewish Voices, said, “Privileged individuals and families, too, had to cope with loss, displacement and at least temporary homelessness. These interviews show that even privileged lives are fragile, and they point to the impact of the loss of our most essential connections.”
On Tuesday evening, I attended a reading (co-sponsored by the Jewish Women’s Archive) by scholar/writer/activist Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz from her new book The Colors of Jews: Racial Politics and Radical Diasporism. There’s a lot in this book—too much to discuss in one blog entry. In sum, it examines historical and contemporary views on Jews and whiteness and the complexities of African/Jewish relations.
I just returned from the Jewish Outreach Institute’s annual conference called Opening the Tent: Visions and Practices for a More Inclusive Jewish Community. It was an interesting conference that explored practices for welcoming interfaith families, non-Jewish partners of Jews, Jews-by-Choice, and, generally speaking, all whom are “unaffiliated”—including Jews perceived to be “on the margins” (i.e. Jews of Color and GLBT-identified Jews)—into the established community.