Jewish Identity Category

the calendar has come around again to the time of one of the many proud jewish traditions that has gone out of practice in recent years, though not one that gets mentioned very often.

in ashkenazi communities from nyu-york and buenos (aires) to varshe and london (and i assume to durban and sydney), each fall, on the 10th of tishrey, radical jews – mainly anarchists, though also bundists, communists, and other socialists – held a celebration. the community would turn out in full force, dressed in their best clothes, and pack the hall, sometimes spilling out into the street. they would generally begin by sitting down to a banquet, followed by a musical program that would lead into dancing until the late hours of the night. the event would be held in a hall as close as possible to the official center of the jewish community, the synagogue.

the yom kippur ball drifted out of common practice as the first half of the twentieth century waned. radical jews’ inclination to confront the religious authorities declined as those authorities wielded less and less practical power; their impulse to acknowledge the date of atonement for halakhic transgressions declined as the secular jewish culture they created grew stronger. so why, every year at about this time, do i – three generations of secular radical jewish life past that era – have an urge to throw a really rowdy party?

I’ve never spent the High Holy Days on the east coast before. I’m from Seattle. There’s a joke (well, there’s a joke as of right now): Q: How do you tell a Seattle Jew from a Seattle goy? A: There’s a difference? I did my latke presentation in kindergarten like everyone else, the song and […]

Halacha dreams

In: Jewish Identity, LGBTQ, Queer, Spirituality, Tradition

My interest in leading a more observant Jewish life seems to have saturated my subconscious. Several times a week for the past few months I have had vivid dreams about myself as a more observant (and often Orthodox) Jew. It started with a series of itense dreams in which I go to a mikvah. I […]

Welcoming Selihot

In: Arts and Culture, Education, Jewish Identity, LGBTQ

A personal bend: I received an email this morning from my mom that was incredibly moving. She told me the synagogue I grew up in and still in many ways consider my shul, Rodeph Sholom, a Conservative Shul in Bridgeport, CT is going to be screening Hineini this evening before the Selihot service. Hineini (Hebrew […]

Who stole my Judaism?

In: Jewish Identity, Mizrahi, Sephardi, Tradition

First published in the Jewish Independent. East European tradition is religious hallmark. LOOLWA KHAZZOOM I entered the study hall of the Iraqi synagogue in Ramat Gan – the synagogue where I’d spent my childhood summers. Some of the women sat on the outskirts of the hall, literally outside, and others sat pressed against the right […]

crossposted with Jewschool. Breathtaking: A repost from torah queeries, a joint project of Mosaic and the World Congress of GLBT Jews. Parashat Ekev Bind These Words: On Parashat Ekev by Amy “afo” Fornari Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25, Shabbat Chest Binder : an undergarment worn by female-to-male (FTM) transexual, transgender and genderqueer people, and anyone else […]


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