Episode 35: Becoming Abby Stein (Transcript)

Episode 35: Becoming Abby Stein

[Theme music]

Nahanni Rous: Hi! This is Nahanni Rous. Welcome back to Can We Talk?, the podcast of the Jewish Women’s Archive where gender, history, and Jewish culture meet.

Abby Stein: I know I’m a girl. All the people around me, all the people I’m supposed to respect and listen to say I’m a boy, and I know they’re wrong. Why would I trust them on anything else?

Nahanni: Abby Stein grew up in a tight-knit, insular Hasidic community in Brooklyn. Abby calls it one of the most gender segregated societies in America. From early childhood, she knew she was a girl, but from the time she was born, her entire community celebrated the fact that she was a boy. In this episode of Can We Talk?, author and transgender activist Abby Stein describes her childhood, her discovery of non-binary genders in Jewish mysticism, and how she parted ways with her community. This episode is the third in our three-part series of author interviews this fall. Though her parents were against it, Abby Stein enrolled at Columbia University when she was 21. Three years later, she came out as trans and began the process of transitioning. She hasn’t spoken with her parents since. Abby regularly teaches and speaks about transgender issues in the Jewish community and beyond. Her memoir, Becoming Eve, is out this month. It chronicles her childhood, coming of age, and transition. I met Abby at her apartment in Harlem, not far from Columbia.

[Theme music fades]

Nahanni: Thank you so much for sharing your story.

Abby: Thank you for having me.

Nahanni: Why don't you start by describing the community that you grew up in?

Abby Stein: And whenever people say that, I asked them if they have five hours, which is what I think that would be the bare minimum to give you a bit of an understanding of it, but I will try my best to do it in a minute. It's a community that is, in one way or another, trying to recreate something that I personally don't think ever existed.
But in their mind, it's this hypothetical utopian or dystopian, depending on your point of view, religious lifestyle that might have existed in the shtetls, the cultural villages in Eastern Europe where Jews lived in the 18th and 19th century. They have this idea. This is version where everyone was kind of toeing the line, everyone was following the rules. So they create a community where they only speak Yiddish. For example, I didn't speak any other language fluently. I mean, I knew Hebrew. I knew Aramaic. But at home, we only spoke Yiddish. They dress, obviously, that’s what people know... they dress in black and white quite literally and figuratively. Big families is another big part, which is not necessarily negative. The family life... has beautiful parts to it... to the way they the way they celebrate holidays and Shabbat. Obviously, I think personally that negative parts outweigh the positive parts, which is why I left. But it is important to point out, there are some parts that are nice. But as a whole, the concept is to live a sheltered life. Let's call it a folktale, it’s a mindset. They have this idea that they're trying to recreate and it effects every every part of life. Another good example would be pop culture. I sometimes joke like the forbidden band that I was aware of was Miami Boys Choir, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish band that was in English. That was the forbidden band. I didn't even know about... I don't even know what the pop culture bands were in the 90s. Or pick TV shows. I don't know, Seinfeld, the most Jewish show that was probably around in the 90s. It wasn't something, "Oh, we don't watch that." It was like we don't... I mean, we knew about television because they're fighting very strongly against it, but we didn't know exactly what shows even existed. For me growing up, I didn't know gay people existed until, I think it was around 2008. Because that's when the first fight for legalizing gay marriage started and there was some people on the fringe of the community wanted to talk about it, while most in the community still didn't talk about it, and I didn't know that there are other trans people out there until I went online for the first time when I was 20 years old in 2012.

Nahanni: You say based on research that you've done in gender studies that the Hasidic Community is one of or the most gender-segregated communities in America. I wonder if you could give some examples that illustrate that.

Abby: So a few examples: I can start with your more obvious one I think of the Jewish Community. Think about ordaining women. Okay. I know it's a conversation happening in the modern Orthodox board. I think the mainstream modern Orthodox Community is still not not happy with it, but it's a conversation that is happening. In the Hasidic community, that is so beyond... like women are just not in the public space. I mean, they are women leaders for women. There's also women who are like big speakers on their own, but that is only within the frame of women. Anything that's done community-wide, any events, any speeches, any decisions... it doesn't even cross anyone's mind to ask, why aren't women at the table? The part where you realize how segregated is physically and culturally is, it doesn't even cross anyone's mind that having women as leaders in the community is even a thing. Take first cousins. Okay, boys and girls, first cousins, above age nine to twelve, are not supposed to mingle with each other. I mean, they might know each other in some families. Some families they wouldn't even know each other. But they don't play together, they don't talk to each other. And we're talking here first cousins. A woman's place in society isn't even discussed, other than, you’ll be at home, have a lot of babies. I don't think it would be wrong to say that maybe even half of the women are happy with that. I think it's more because ignorance is bliss, but that's not my place to say. But what bothers me more is the half of the community and the women that are not happy with that and just do that because either that is the only option or because they know that they can't do anything else.

[Theme music]

Nahanni: So one of the things that you describe in your book is your first haircut. Can you describe what that was like?

Abby: So in the Hasidic culture... it’s a cultural thing, it’s not like a law, but it’s pretty much what everybody does... is that boys under the age of three, don't get a haircut at all. They let their hair grow naturally. Which also means that for young boys and young girls that are almost three, you can barely tell the difference other than the clothes, because everyone has long hair and so on. And then the tradition is that on the third birthday, boys get their first haircut and in the Hasidic community when they get the payos, the side curls. That is, it's kind of a big deal. Even at that young age, I already wanted to look like a girl. To me, it was just like, why does my older my sister right above me have long hair? And why do I need to have... why do I need to cut my hair? I like my hair. I remember, I ran into the bathroom to get away from it. I remember crying for a lot of the time. Like my whole family, my grandparents and my uncles and everyone was in the room. But yeah, and then that's I think that is pretty much all I remember. I also remember kind of blanking out or blacking out parts of the day, which is, I think, my brain’s way of dealing with trauma. Which is weird, because people are like well, it wasn't that, like it was a nice party, taken the school where you gave out kind of packs of nosh, so to speak, packs of sweet things. And it could be a sweet moment, but for my brain, for me it was registered as a trauma.

Nahanni: You describe each man in your family taking turns cutting a lock of your hair. That's just such a powerful moment and powerful image. What's going on kind of culturally in that moment?

Abby: It's considered a ritualistic and an almost holy thing and everyone taking part of it is everyone taking part and declaring that this baby is becoming a boy. If a bar mitzvah is a boy becoming a man, then an upshirin, like a three-year-old, is a baby becoming a boy, so to speak. And everyone kind of taking part in it and it's almost this ritualistic, at least for me, it felt... I don't think that's the intention so much... for me it felt this ritualistic thing of everyone declaring that you are a boy, and we going to make it visual to everyone, going to make it visible, make sure everyone can tell that. But yeah, it has a bit of a beautiful part to it, it has a bit of a ritualistic part to it. To me it always felt like it's everyone being like you are a boy now, which I didn't appreciate.

Nahanni: Do you remember actually feeling like that was wrong?

Abby Stein: I definitely remember the feeling. In my preteens, I didn't really have a lot of friends, and I didn't go out to play a lot when everyone would go out and play, because I didn't enjoy playing with the boys and playing with the girls was not an option. And again, the types of games was different and there's a way of being a boy and there's a way of being a girl.

Nahanni: So as you were growing up and kind of keeping this secret hidden that you felt like you were a girl. Were you also cognizant of the lower status of girls in your community?

Abby: I think I was to some extent. Um, here's the thing. I don't think I ever registered that as lower at that time. Maybe I did to some extent, but in my mind that was the ideal, and one thing that is clear for me throughout my childhood is that my brain identified as a woman. My brain looked on things like this is masculine, this is what boys do... don't like it. This is what girls do... like it. No doubt to me, that has been throughout my life, and I'm sure that parts of it were influenced by society, at that time, the Hasidic community. There was almost this ideal, and I think it's expressed a bit in the prayer that I have in the book written out that I said when I was nine years old, where my idea of being a woman was that I'm going to be a housewife and have a lot of babies, which very much came from this is what I knew that women do.
I think I was aware that, for the lack of a better description, women have a submissive role in society, where they are not in the leadership, if they are, it's usually behind the scenes and so on. But the desire of "this is who I am" overpowered any feeling of oh, it's a bad... woman have less rights and women have less agency. Also, there's a weird thing, where during teenage years, women have less obligation so to speak. Like where teenage boys would be in yeshiva, would be in school, for ten to twelve hours a day, girls have a fairly similar I think, from eight to like four school day. I guess you can see it as less obligation, which comes from a sexist point of view, and the reason why girls are less in school is because only boys are obligated not to waste a single moment from studying. I was at least nominally aware of the fact that if I am a girl, I wouldn't be a rabbi, which was a given, almost at least in one way or another, if like as a boy... Like right now you have my, both of my grandparents have their own synagogues, my dad has his own... he didn't growing up, but now he has his own synagogue with followers. It was very clear that they are very different roles and that men have, let's say more agency, but that didn't bother me. My desire to be who I was overpowered everything.

Nahanni: You are also from this Hasidic Dynasty. As a descendant of the Baal Shem Tov, do you still relate to your lineage as a source of pride?

Abby: Um... to some extent. I think I came to re-appreciate it and to readapt in the last few years. There are literally two Hasidic quotes in my book. There’s one right at the beginning that is from the Baal Shem Tov, which is “Let me fall if I must fall, the one I will become will catch me.” And then at the beginning of the epilogue there's another quote from... there's another quote from that talks about reincarnation. And it says like this is known according to the mysticism of reincarnation that a times a female would be in a male body. And that is also a quote from one of my ancestors, one of the earliest Hasidic rebbes. So yes, obviously I do to some extent. I do think that in some part, that I got some positive things, even today. Whatever it is... public speaking, which everyone in my family did and my dad gave me quite a few tips that I still use until today. I'm quite obsessed with genealogy. I love studying it and looking at it. And if not for nothing else, this is part of who I am. It's like, when someone talks about the Baal Shem Tov, a small percentage of his DNA and his blood is in me. Maybe more than a small part because I’m five times descended from him in different ways. So it's a reality. People ask me, for example, if I observe Shabbat. My go-to is always, I celebrate Shabbat. I celebrate. I celebrate holidays. I celebrate Judaism, not so much observe, which is very much my approach to everything in life. So I have the same approach to Hasidic Judaism and, and I think there are some legitimate Hasidic messages. I sincerely believe that the Baal Shem Tov, in some way one way or another, was a hippie. If you study the stories, it makes a lot of sense. They were definitely not the establishment that Hasidic Jews are today.

[Theme music]

Nahanni: You were starting to question your beliefs at a certain point, and it seems like that kind of came on the heels of realizing that you could not express your female identity. And it almost seems like it was easier to question the existence of God then to say well, "I'm actually a woman."

Abby: I mean there were times I would say, first I did try to make sense of my gender identity and try to find ways of dealing with it. But then when I was around twelve is when I got to the point where I was like, "this doesn’t make any sense because no one talks about it and everyone is either a boy or a girl and how do I fit into this?"
And then at the same time that came coupled with idea of, I know I'm a girl, all the people around me, all the people I'm supposed to respect and listen to say that I'm a boy, and I know they are wrong, why would I trust them on anything else? And at the same time, also maybe I should start exploring religion and it's gonna go away, the gender things are gonna go away. Something similar to "pray the gay away" in my own form of hoping that I will find some other medium of expressing my identity struggles and it would go away. It obviously never did, but that’s kind of what led me to a path where I started questioning and everything. To a point that when I actually left, it wasn't because of my gender identity. It was because of religion, it was because I didn't believe in it. And it gets really hard to live... I think it's one thing to live a nominally Jewish life if you don't believe in it. It's one thing to go to synagogue maybe once a week or enjoy the communal parts of it... fine. It's really, really hard to live a lifestyle where every second of every day is controlled by that religion when you don't believe in it. So that is kind of what ultimately it led me to. But a big part of what caused me to even start questioning... because most people, I'm not saying there aren't rebels, I think teenage rebellion exist everywhere... but most people don't question the existence of God, specifically not at a young age. I think maybe it happens with people in their twenties. But a big part of why I was asking questions at an earlier age was because of my gender identity and these kind of like two parts of like... I can’t trust these people, and let's find some other outlet to express myself.

Nahanni: Was that painful?

Abby: I mean parts of it, yes, and also relieving at the same time. I mean, it's definitely painful in the sense of this is the only world I knew. But I always had a rebellious streak, and I would be lying if I wouldn't say that part of it felt good. Being like, you all are, you don't know what you're doing, and I am like different than like whatever. There's definitely... and I also as I think it's a theme that someone could pick out throughout the book, which is, the desire to feel different always felt good because it was a way for me to express what I felt internally. There was definitely a part where I didn't feel comfortable with who I was being told I was, and kind of expressing that outwardly in ways that had nothing to do necessarily with it and that sometimes took on ways of rebelling in a more rebellious way of like causing trouble, but actually for most of the time it was rebellion in a religious sense. A mashgiach, a teacher and at school, in yeshiva once called me the kosher rebel. I was like making trouble, but in my own way, like fasting days that I wasn't supposed to fast, or wake up at midnight to not do anything crazy, but just to sit and study and whatever, sneaking into the mikvah not to do who knows what, but to simply go to the mikvah. That was ways for me to try to express it, and at times it was legitimate attempts to figure out my religious beliefs and find space for myself.

Nahanni: Can you talk about some of the kabbalistic writings that you discovered that were like a major Revelation in terms of gender?

Abby: So yeah, so when I was on fifteen, I did have a time where I was about to leave and then ultimately got into kabbalistic teachings and that is when I discovered for the first time a text that literally says, translated into English, that at times a male would be in a female body and a female will be in a male body. And they're using kind of the term souls... that a soul, which is gendered in kabbalistic teachings, could be in a different body. They also talk about a soul could be a mix of different gender identities. And that was the first time my life that I find that I found some form of... I don't want to say... a lot more than justification. Some form of making sense of it, and some form of legitimacy. I do believe that some of these texts were legitimately coming from a place where either the writer or the author or the people around... it was a conversation. I don't think they knew how to make sense of it, exactly, but I do believe, and it’s a reality, that queer people and trans people in one way or another way were around throughout history. There’s one specific text that I've been using a lot that is this is a thirteenth century rabbi describing their feelings of literally wanting to be a girl and saying the words of “cursed be the one who told my dad that it’s a boy” and saying like a prayer, which was very personal to me, like literally writing a prayer of "I want to be a woman and I wish I could have been a woman." So these things have definitely existed throughout history, and it's very interesting because to me at the time they were just merely things that made me feel slightly more comfortable. And then today I came to re-embrace my Judaism and re-embrace the parts that I think are beautiful. I've been able to share these with people, and I said I’ve given over a hundred different classes... and I have over 40 different source sheets online. And the response that we're getting is really powerful.
I also think that these texts go beyond religion. Forget for a second if we believe in it or not, or if you think it has anything interesting about it internally. But this shows that in the sixteenth century there were six genders, at least the Talmud talks about it. It was a conversation that people were having. It's the one simple reality that we were around throughout history. It's one of the most common arguments that I think trans people get that I heard a lot. That it's like Hollywood and the media affecting us. Hollywood and the media didn't force the Talmud to say that there are six genders, not once, but hundreds of times, and constantly talk about it, which clearly shows that it was a reality of life. And again we can go on to argue exactly what it is they're talking about, but that's not the point. The point is that they're talking about it in a constant setting. The kabbalistic teachings understood that humanity goes beyond male and female. And that has been extremely powerful.

[Theme music]

Nahanni: You got married when you were nineteen, and you had a son. The moment when you first hold your son in the book is a beautiful moment. It's like everything else disappears for you. What happened to your with your gender identity in that moment?

Abby: I don't think my gender identity was there, other than there is was this moment when the doctor said “it's boy.” There was this moment of where my respond was like “are you sure?” which is probably the weirdest response the doctor has ever gotten when he tried to tell someone the gender of a baby. But during the time when I actually saw him, I think as I say, everything else was gone, I wasn't... gender wasn't on my mind, to be honest. Yeah. It just wasn't there really. I think. If it was it was it was shoved under the fact of like, I don't know, the love, the feelings and the like... the love, the feeling. I mean, I guess it could be that my own struggles informed a bit the thought that and I think I literally whispered into his ear that I'm going to do everything in my power to protect you. It was at least partially influenced by the fact of like, I know what I struggled and I want to make sure that you don't do that. Which was ultimately kind of, during that same time, for me the straw that broke the back of the camel, you know the final punch line, where I was like, I can't continue to do that, because how can I raise a child to be real, to be true to himself or to herself or to themself, when I'm not true to myself. So that was definitely a part of the general experience of having a child.

[Theme music]

Nahanni: Did it take a lot of strength for you to leave your family and your community?

Abby Stein: Oh, okay. So here's the thing. At least with my my ex and my child, I didn't actually leave them, they left me, quite literally and physically and figuratively. For me, it was... there was no other option at a point. It got to a point, but also I did try to make it work specifically with my ex. I had a child. I wasn't going to leave him. And there was a period of quite a few months almost a year after I told my ex that I don't believe, that I'm not religious, and I don't keep Shabbat, and I don't fast on Yom Kippur, and the harshest things, that we still tried to make it work. We worked hard on it until her family stepped in and made sure that that doesn't happen. But I really tried to make it work with my son. It was only after I realized that that isn't happening, that I was like, there's nothing left for me. Like why would I stay religious? With my family... I knew that my father's philosophy and what he always told other people, because he has been working with teens at risk. Hasidic version: smartphones and girls, not like drugs... Hasidic iteration of teens at risk. He's been working with that for quite some time. His approach has always been even when people become not religious, he would tell parents not to reject them. It wasn't coming from some humanitarian place, it was coming more from, "this is the only chance that your child would ever come back." So that kind of like I knew I wouldn't fully lose my family, and I didn't until I came out. So yeah, so that was that was kind of what went down in my head. But the ultimate message to me was, this is not possible anymore. And whatever this was, yeah, it was the combination of their radical religious life that I don't believe in, it was gender, though even after I left, and even after I got online for the first time, which I only knew how to do because I was told all the negative things about the internet, and I knew what Wi-Fi is, and I knew that I can connect a Tablet to Wi-Fi and so on... and that's when I already learned that trans people existed. It took me three more years to actually take any solid steps towards transitioning because I was still afraid of it. It was still too much. I think looking back it was a hard three years, but it was a good thing, because I kind of split up my experience of of transitioning and leaving everything, because to some extent leaving the Hasidic Community is it has similarities to coming out.

Nahanni: Did you know that coming out would mean losing contact with most of your family?

Abby: Here's the thing. I knew that I think I was quite aware that my parents would have a problem of me being seen with them in a community setting. Specifically because I knew that my father's philosophy was always for people not to shun kids, I was a bit, I was hoping that at least they would continue to talk to me maybe on the phone and maybe at home I would be able to go. I was really hoping that. I think a big part that I actually learned after that, I mean I knew it a bit before, but it became very clear after that my dad, as much as I wish to hope that my dad during that three years that I was not religious, that he was still talking to me, that it was just because he was a dad, which might have been a small part of it. The bigger part of it was a hope that I'm gonna come back one day if he's nice to me, which, sorry to say, that's not parenting. That's not the way it should be. And then I think he realized, when I was talking to him about transition, it was one of his first questions after making some sexist statements, was, "is there a way back?" I think when he realized very much that that's it, that I'm never I'm never becoming Hasidic again, was when he decided then he's not going to talk. Which is, if you ask me as a parent, really bad. My mom, I do believe legitimately, that was the strongest part for her. Her child is a child. From what I have heard some people in my family claim is that she would have a relationship with me if my dad allowed it. I don't know if that's accurate or not. Let's put it this way: I love my mom. She's amazing.

Nahanni: How do you cope with being separated like that?

Abby: I sometimes realized that it should bother me more and it doesn't bother me enough, but I think it's human nature to cope with it. It does get hard, I think for anyone who follows me on Facebook specifically, sometimes during holidays or family weddings. I've had two siblings who got married already since I came out. One of them, I wasn't even in New York, which I think was good. The second one, just my sister got married last year. I went to the chuppah, which is the ceremony which in every Hasidic Community is always done outside. And so I was kind of watching from above. It was in a courtyard below where the wedding venue was, and I was just standing on the street where no one, I don't think many people recognized me, but even if they could, I'm allowed to stay in the street, there’s nothing they could do about it. Which was really helpful. I'm really great. I like to focus on the family...

Nahanni: Why was it helpful?

Abby: I mean, being there, just to feel like I'm still part of the family and being there, and I really like... she was... she's the oldest one of my three... I have three younger sisters, I have five older sisters and I have four brothers and three more sisters, and I was really close with all three of them. So for me to feel that I'm there. But also, I like the focus on the silver linings in things always. Maybe I'm naive, maybe I'm stupid, maybe I'm just trying to tell myself something. But I do have two siblings that I'm still in touch with. I have about ten to fifteen first cousins that I'm in touch with in one way or another. Most people my age don't have more than two siblings, don't have more than ten first cousins, so. I definitely still have family.

Nahanni: And you even found out about a whole other branch of your family that you never knew about, right? Can you tell me about that?

Abby: Yeah. I discovered this whole branch of this tiny part of my family, my grandfather’s side of the family, second and third cousins, who live in Israel, who are secular. It's very... they have been amazing. People say a lot, like “chosen family” and chosen family replacing.. to me it started, and they were telling me that a few times and it was amazing to me. They're telling me you do have family now... and it's extremely powerful to me, not just chosen family, but they are biological family. So it's it's extremely powerful.

Nahanni: What do you miss about the Hasidic Community?

Abby: I get that question a lot, "what do you miss about the Hasidic community?" In all honesty? I don't miss anything. If I want something, I do it. People say “oh, you can't have it both ways.” I kind of disagree. I mean, the only thing that I don't have is that kind of community life, but I don't want that. I have some beautiful communities. I don't want the kind of community where everyone is in your business the whole time.

[Theme music]

Nahanni: You joined the steering committee for the Women's March in 2019. At that time, many Jewish women felt torn about participating in the March. One of the founders had a very public alliance and relationship with the professed antisemite Louis Farrakhan, who had among other things, called Jews cockroaches. She had refused to disavow him, talking instead about what he had done for her personally and for African Americans in general. What was it like for you to join the committee at that time?

Abby: So that was an interesting experience for me. It wasn't something that was done lightly and my approach when it comes to antisemitism is very similar to my approach when it comes to dealing with transphobia and LGBT people and homophobia. If we only talk and engage with people that we agree with, there's no point to activism. Because yes, talking in an echo chamber is beautiful, but we are always going to have to engage with people. And I think the litmus test, so to speak, is are these people listening and are they taking action based on what you do? I would never deny that there were some issues. But the reality is, and that was kind of what I had to make sure before I joined, when I realized that they are listening. Maybe it's not going as fast enough as we wanted it to. But the reality is that anyone who listens to the speeches of the 2019 Women's March, it was probably the biggest, the biggest awareness against antisemitism that I've ever seen in a non-Jewish setting. Every speaker, everyone was talking about it. It was at the forefront. I wish it was there in 2017 or 2018, but in 2019, it was there. And I take just a bit of credit for that, together with the other two amazing Jewish women that were on the steering committee. The reality was that it was an extreme show of solidarity that we can, it's not perfect, but it's getting better and better with something that we can and will continue to do.

Nahanni: You’re also involved in other kinds of activism. For example, you’ve been involved in organizing against ICE’s treatment of undocumented immigrants.

Abby: I see intersectionality as not... intersectionality is not some cool statement. It's a reality. And when we help... I feel that when I help immigrants, I'm also helping as a proud queer Jewish trans woman, I'm also helping Jews as a whole. I'm also helping trans people, and we will continue to do that.

Nahanni: Abby thank you so much.

Abby: Thank you for having me.

[Theme music]

Nahanni: Abby Stein’s new book is called Becoming Eve, My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman. It’s one of the reads on this year’s Jewish Woman’s Archive book club list. If you’d like to take part, visit jwa.org/bookclub. To find Abby Stein’s source sheets on references to multiple genders in Jewish texts, visit sefaria dot org, and search Abby Stein. This episode of Can We Talk? is supported by Keshet—For LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. Inspired by Abby’s journey? Join Keshet at an LGBTQ and Ally Teen Shabbaton weekend retreat, where you can meet friends, learn new skills, and have fun just being yourself. Learn more at keshetonline.org/teenshabbaton. Thank you for joining us for Can We Talk?, the podcast of the Jewish Women’s Archive. This episode was produced by Mariel Carr.

Nahanni: Our team also includes Judith Rosenbaum and Becky Long. Our theme music is by Girls in Trouble. You can find Can We Talk? online at jwa.org/canwetalk, and anywhere you get your podcasts. Please take a moment to review us on iTunes, and share your favorite episodes with your friends so that others can find us. If you’d like to help us produce more episodes of Can We Talk?, please go to jwa.org/donate to make a contribution.

Nahanni: Do you have a story to tell or someone whose story you'd love to capture? Download Story Aperture. That’s JWA's new mobile app that puts the power of story-collecting in your hands. Inside the app you’ll find suggestions and prompts for recording your own story or conducting an interview. You can save stories in the app and upload directly to JWA's archives. Download from your app store, record, and share today!

Nahanni: Can We Talk? is moving to a seasonal schedule, so we’ll be in production mode for the next few months. But stay tuned for a trailer with sneak peaks at our spring season. Until then, I’m your host, Nahanni Rous.


Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Episode 35: Becoming Abby Stein (Transcript)." (Viewed on February 3, 2023) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk/episode-35-becoming-abby-stein/transcript>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox