Queer Yeshiva Provides Sanctuary and Liberation for Trans Community Amid Hostilities

LGBTQ, Quuer Yeshiva
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Svara, an exclusive online learning community, is in the vanguard of changing American Judaism by giving gay and trans-Jews a place to interact with their religion. Svara, which lesbian rabbi Benay Lappe established, provides a spiritual center where LGBTQ Jews can reinterpret and change Jewish traditions like the ancient rabbis. Despite not awarding degrees or ordination, the yeshiva significantly impacts the neighborhood.

Svara accepted about 500 queer, trans, and gender nonconforming students in the previous academic year, had a budget of $2 million, and employed 12 staff members full-time. This development comes when proposals targeting transgender girls' participation in women's sports teams, restroom access for trans people, and gender-affirming care for youngsters are debated in numerous state legislatures.

Trans Man Embraces Judaism, Fosters Community at Queer Talmud Camp

According to the article in Washington Post, Due to his lack of knowledge of Hebrew and the critical texts of rabbinic Judaism, Noah Rubin-Blose, a trans man who identified as such and was raised in a Jewish context, first considered the prospect of studying the Talmud for a week to be rather stressful. Despite this, he attended Queer Talmud Camp a few years ago because of the opportunity to interact with other queer Jews.

Rubin-Blose had a sense of community after signing up for the program. 80 to 100 gay Jews gathered for a week of study and singing as part of the immersion program organized by Svara, a yeshiva created explicitly for queer and trans people. Rubin-Blose found significant meaning in the event and soon started taking part frequently.

Even after the camp was briefly canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, he attended every year and even enrolled in more Svara classes. As a "fairy" or teacher assistant, Rubin-Blose's participation with the yeshiva developed. Later, he was appointed a fellow at Svara.

According to the Trans Legislation Tracker, this year has seen an alarming 494 anti-trans measures, 36 of which have already been enacted. Many of these laws were created by conservative Christian groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and were approved by legislatures that Republicans dominated.

Also Read:Missouri Attorney General Proposes Law to Ban Transgender Healthcare for Minors, Sparking Backlash From LGBTQ+ Advocates

Liberal Jewish Movements Embrace LGBTQ, Promote Inclusivity Amid Anti-Trans Legislation

In the article shared in Religion News Service, liberal Jewish movements, on the other hand, have seen a tremendous change in how they feel about LGBTQ people. The two main Jewish denominations, the Reform and Conservative movements, have openly denounced the recent wave of anti-trans legislation. With the majority of Orthodox rabbis believing that gender is fixed and marriage is only for heterosexual couples, Orthodox Judaism, on the other hand, continues to be much less accepting of LGBTQ people.

The Conservative movement's seminary's appointed rabbi, Rabbi Benay Lappe, had a remarkable journey back to Judaism, including studying Buddhism in Japan. Lappe's experience of reclaiming and remaking Judaism to include underrepresented voices, such as LGBT people, people of color, and people with disabilities, motivated her to found Svara in 2003.

Lappe learned about Judaism's adaptability through the Talmud, which contains early rabbinic discussions on Jewish law and ethics. After the collapse of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD, when Judaism needed to be reinvented, the Talmud came into being. Lappe understood that Talmudic rabbis might reinterpret biblical passages, proving that the Torah was not infallible. They used "svara," or moral intuition, to deal with these changes and provided insightful guidance for the modern Jewish world.

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