Creating a Queer Frum Jewish Home

June 17, 2008 at 8:50 pm 4 comments

My partner and I are moving in together in less than a week. I am very excited, a little nervous, and very hopeful. I have lived with partners before but this is different. This is my first time creating an observant, frum Jewish home with someone. How do two lesbian, bisexual and/or queer women create an observant Jewish household together? I don’t know the answer to that yet. But I have some thoughts on my mind about this topic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about tables, and what takes place around them. When we can afford it, we want to buy a big table. As my partner said, a table big enough to have a bunch of people sitting around it and room for food in the middle. Why a big table? Because having people over to our home for Shabbos and yuntif meals will be a big way for us to feel like we are a family (yes, two people can be a family!) and to be able to have our community of friends and family be part of our lives in a different way. Right now we go over to other peoples’ houses for most Shabbos meals. Now we will be able to have people come to us. We will be able to have a bunch of people sitting around our table eating my our home-cooked food and singing Shabbos zmiros with us. A table is more than just furniture! In a Jewish home, it is a symbol of family and community and joyful celebrations.

We have fallen into certain roles in our relationship when it comes to Jewish ritual. I’m sure not all “orthodykes” and other Jewish same-sex couples do this – Some couples are more egalitarian than others and switch off more than we do. But I’ve just naturally fallen into doing kiddush and the brachos for havdalah every week. It just feels right. She davens more regularly than I do, and her doing so wordlessly reminds me to pick up my siddur. I wonder how this will unfold as we live together and (G-d willing) have children. There are no written rules for how to divide Jewish ritual (or household labor, or parenting) when you are a same-sex couple.

Another issue that comes up when a queer frum couple move in together is how to fuse two peoples’ personal hashkafas (outlooks on Judaism). Disagreements about kashrus can be fraught with tension. My love tells me I’m too machmir sometimes, which makes me laugh. I didn’t grow up kosher so I’m still learning the ropes. We have had some back and forth about whether to have a dairy kitchen or both meat an dairy. We are two different people, and compromise is the name of the game. Of course there is also always the question of which of our friends will eat at our home and who won’t. Yes, ultimately we are dealing with the same issues as most frum couples… except there is no rule about whose minhagim (customs) we will defer to. What it comes down to is that most of the eternal Jewish questions and issues faced by newly married and/or newly cohabitating couples don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation!

Posted by queerbasyisroel.


Entry filed under: Dating & Relationships, Personal Stories, Ritual, Uncategorized.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. queeryeshivameidel  |  June 17, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Mazel Tov!! I hope you’ll keep posting as you figure out how to best build a bayis ne’eman b’yisroel together.

  • 2. Casey  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Mazel tov! I wish my gf would even discuss kashrut with me….she has no intention of not eating treif things or not mixing meat & dairy! Oy.

  • 3. Beth  |  September 2, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    I can relate to the feeling of needing a big table — we finally got a table that will seat 6 to 12 people a coule of years ago. Soon after, there was a conflict with my partner’s family about me being too observant, too vigilant that they shouldn’t treif out the kitchen, unwilling to have them cook and bring food to us, etc. A couple of years followed of being relluctant, even afraid, to host anyone, but I’m happy to say that this year, we’ve started to invite people again, had some people for Shabbat twice in the last few weeks, and it’s starting to feal like our table is healing.

  • 4. Elsiheva  |  November 4, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Very interesting and thought-provoking post.


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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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