Archive for January, 2009

Text Study and Discussion in New York

Have you ever wondered why this group is called Tirtzah?

Please join us on Sunday Feb 1st. at 10:00 am in Manhattan as we explore our group name, through text study and discussion. We will study the character
of Tirtzah in the Tanach, as well as the meaning of the name, and
discuss the ways in which Tirtzah’s story and the meaning of her name
can inform our lives and our interactions with the Jewish community
and with the Torah.

*Want to Attend?
This is a private event for members of our e-mail discussion group. If you are a frum L/B/Q woman who’d like to join us at this gathering, please join our e-mail list at http://tirtzah.wordpress.com/our-e-mail-list/ for more information. Please e-mail tirtzahcommunity@gmail.com if you need assistance or have questions.
We encourage you to RSVP to tirtzahcommunity@gmail.com.

*What is Tirtzah?
We are a community of frum queer women who gather to celebrate and study our yiddishkeit. We are committed to the value of shleimut (wholeness) and to supporting one another in observing a meaningful, integrated, honest and joyful Jewish life. We have a wide variety of religious backgrounds and identities, but we are all halachically-engaged observant Jews in addition to being lesbian, bisexual or queer identified. We come together to have social events, learn Torah, discuss topics relevant to our lives, and celebrate holidays. We have an active e-mail discussion group and a blog, and we hold in-person events in the New York metropolitan area. Find out more about us at http://tirtzah.wordpress.com

January 23, 2009 at 2:11 pm Leave a comment

PFLAG for Religious Jewish Families

The JCC in Manhattan is starting this new group, led by former NYC-PFLAG president Phyllis Steinberg. Spread the word!

Are you a parent with a LGBTQ child or a LGBTQ adult looking to find an uniquely Jewish, safe space to explore family acceptance, discomfort and all the complex feelings associated with this process? Are you looking for a comfortable, understanding Jewish environment to discuss LGBTQ issues that might be impacting your family dynamic? This group is welcome to all, but specifically addresses the challenges of accepting a LGBTQ child into a religious family. Parents alone, children alone, and parents and children together are all welcome.

4 times on the 1st Wednesday of each month
7:00 PM
Jan 7 – Apr 1
Free All
GLOAFT00W9
Location: The JCC in Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave. at 76th St. (Program room assignments will be available at the JCC Customer Service Desk, in the lobby of the Samuel Priest Rose Building.)

For more information, or to register, please call 646-505-5708.
http://www.jccmanhattan.org

January 12, 2009 at 1:12 am Leave a comment

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Challenges Religious Establishments to Accept Homosexual Jews

 Ynet. Reports:

At the Limmud Annual Conference, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin stated that in his view, while he does not support marriage for gay/lesbian people, he favors greater acceptance for gay and lesbian people in Orthodox congregations.

As someone who has gotten to know Orthodox gay and lesbian people, he says “I don’t object to gay-lesbian parents or single mothers bringing a child into this world, as long as they do so responsibly”.  

In addressing the way the community should respond to it’s gay/lesbian members, hes says: “The synogogue is meant to accept any Jew. I must love the foreigner, as well as those who are different. Our role as parents is to love our children, and the rabbis’ role is to love the members of their congregation”.

Posted by queeryeshivameidel.

January 8, 2009 at 4:23 pm 4 comments

Writing From Where I Am

This is a guest post from Bas Avraham- a member of the Tirtzah community:

I don’t know how to tell people I am queer.
 
 Not that it’s so hard, mind you.  In fact, maybe it would be better to write that a different way:  I don’t know how to tell people  *how*  I’m queer.  It’s not simple, and it doesn’t have very much to do with identity politics, with my gender, or even with the biological sex of the people I want to have relationships with.  At least, not right now.
 
 I could try to explain everything, but in the end, I realized I can’t fit
 all of that into something suitable for internet consumption.  Instead, I am writing from where I am.

 Where I am is in the middle of trying to find a chasan, a
 groom, a partner in life.  As anyone can tell you, it’s hard work.  As a
 convert in my late twenties who doesn’t have a lot of experience dating, it’s also a bit scary for me.  I am new to dating, new to the frum world, and not exactly sure where I fit.  Right now, I am spending a lot of energy trying to figure out whether I want to be in a more “yeshivish” community or in a more modern orthodox community.  Truthfully, I don’t really understand why I have to make that choice, but it seems like it is important to most of the men out there, at least the ones I seem to be meeting.
 
 In order to find people to date, well.  At first, I didn’t have to find people.  I dated the same person for a year and a half – a man, who was my first love and also the first experience I ever had dating an orthodox person.  We met by accident, at a shul, and one of the first things I asked him was “how would you react, if you had a gay kid?”  His reaction was interesting; not extreme, not scared.  It made me more or less happy – the truth is, I was happy enough that he didn’t run away.  

At the time when I met him, what I wanted was to find someone who would join me in trying to find halakhically (that is, legally, according to Torah law) viable ways to advocate for the queer frum community at large.  At the bare minimum, I was looking for someone who would support my pursuit of that work.  The substance of that work has already changed, as I learn more about the Torah and the obligations and ideas it has on the subject, but my committment to the work itself, to partnering with other Jews to try to be a community where all of us can try to serve Hashem “b’chol levavcha, u’v’chol nafshecha” – with all our heart and blood – is non-negotiable.

 The truth is, he was dedicated to that work too.  To this day, I don’t know what really went wrong in that relationship.  But his horror at learning that I was interested in actually introducing queer frum Jews to one another, for the purposes of matchmaking, served, in an ironic twist, to hasten the end of my own match.  To me, my dedication to that type of advocacy ought to have been a conversation.  Instead, it was a shouting match, taking place over the course of two days.  The temptation to “give in” was very strong.

But ultimately, the result of the argument – which side won – wasn’t what disturbed me. What disturbed me was that he was willing to ignore parts of reality in order to try to uphold a “Torah law”. And to me, since I believe that the Torah deals in the ultimate reality, enacting it and its laws in the world really do have to take all of that world into account.  Whether there are good halakhic
 arguments for queer matchmaking or not is really not the point.  The point is that in considering the question, the people doing the considering need to include things like the following realities:
 
 1.  The existence of frum people who have feeling exclusively for people of
 “non-halakhically optimal” genders – i.e., the continued existence of queer
 frum people, whether they are interested in identifying as queer in a political way or not.
 2.  A concern that as many Jews as possible do as many mitzvot as possible.
 3.  A concern that Jews remain affiliated with other Jews.
 4.  A concern that we as a Jewish community give one another permission to
 live our lives according to as many Jewish values as possible – this
 includes the value of tznius (modesty/humility) which problematizes many
 things that go along with secular dating.
 5.  A concern that people who are not permitted to get what they need openly
 often do so in ways that are risky or life-threatening, and are almost always dishonest to someone, somewhere along the way.
 6.  A concern for the high suicide rate among all queer youth.

 Since I believe that at least one act potentially involved in queer male relations is an issur d’oraisa (a Torah prohibition), and all bets are off as to the halakhic status of various things we women might do or relationships we might be in, the violation of a Torah prohibition is also one of these considerations – and obviously it is extremely weighty. Probably more weighty than most of the other considerations.  But the other considerations are still there.  They don’t simply disappear.  The Torah is not an arbitrary document.  It represents the will of G-d, and the last time I checked, G-d made the universe, with all the statistics and considerations and queer people in it.
 
 After man no. 1 and I broke up, I joined a dating website - the kind where you hire a shadchan (a matchmaker), and the shadchanim match you up.  I got matched after a good long while, and recently went on a first date with a new man.  He seemed pretty interesting, so we went out again.  Finally, on the third date, I asked him my killer question:  “what would you do if you had a child who told you he was gay?”

 Afterward, he told me his first thought was “what kind
 of orthodox Jewish conversation is this?”

 And I thought to myself, that’s just the trouble.  Why isn’t this an
 orthodox Jewish conversation?  Is being orthodox really about being in denial?
 
 I hope not.
 

January 2, 2009 at 1:56 pm 4 comments


About Tirtzah

We are a community of frum queer women who gather to celebrate and study our yiddishkeit. We are committed to the value of shleimut (wholeness) and to supporting one another in observing a meaningful, integrated, honest and joyful Jewish life.

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