The Jewish New Year is a time of personal reflection. During the High Holidays, we reflected on the past year, asked for forgiveness from those we have wronged and looked toward the year ahead and how we could improve. This High Holiday season, it seemed like the rest of the country was reflecting with us. The upcoming presidential election has provided an opportunity for us to reflect on the past eight years, and in a month we will cast votes that will partially determine our future for the four years ahead. It is, in many ways, a High Holiday for the nation.
The theory of a sukkah feels queer to me – a temporary, self-built space for the purpose of shelter, but also importantly with an open roof for a view of the stars. It reminds me of a garden witch, a midwife, an herbalist lesbian pulling herbs from her garden to dry and dangle from the door of her room. It reminds me of alternative histories, and sets of knowledge – my friends sitting around a coffee table analyzing each other’s birth charts, brewing each other rose bud tea for aching hearts, or mixing personalized lotions and sugar scrubs with lavender for soft skin. LGBT communities, LGBT families, are temporary structures for safety like the sukkah itself. They’re built out of necessity, with open roofs and a mystical air. They’re comforting, they’re placeless, and they’re adaptable.
There it sat and it had sat for a very long time. We felt exhausted, vulnerable, and full of anxiety. Writing and sending a “coming out” letter to all of our family, friends, colleagues, congregants, and neighbors that our child was transitioning to match their internal gender was one of the scariest things we had done. We were fearful of the responses or lack of responses our letter would generate, so we sent it out very late on a Sunday night. We could go to bed unscathed from the public for one last night before we had to deal with this honesty head on. It was 14 long months after our child came out to us as transgender.
We mark time, Jewishly, through the cycle of the Jewish calendar and holidays. Each month and holiday poses questions for spiritual reflection and growth, and reminds us that we are part of something larger than ourselves. The High Holiday season extends through the months of Elul and Tishrei, beginning with Rosh Chodesh Elul and ending with Simchat Torah, near the end of Tishrei.