Author Archives: Miryam Kabakov

Miryam Kabakov

About Miryam Kabakov

Miryam Kabakov founded and facilitated the New York Orthodykes, facilitated a support group for ex-Orthodox and Chassidic young people with Footsteps, and is the former director of GLBT programming at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. She is the Director of Eshel and Izun/Mizan: A Film and Dialogue Series and editor of Keep Your Wives Away From Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires. She lives with her partner and two children in St. Paul, Minnesota. She lives with her partner and two children in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Pride and Pain in the Orthodox World

“There was a deep sense of comfort, of relief, of finally feeling like we could be ourselves.”

“I was amazed at how liberating it was to spend time with others with whom we have so much in common.”

“Being in a community that truly felt like a community for so many reasons that are absent in my day-to-day life experience in our Orthodox community.”

— Eshel Shabbaton attendees

When I was 24, I came out to my parents the day before the gay pride parade in New York City. My parents and I were closer than close, and they knew everything about me, except for this. I carried around this decade-old secret in shame, pain and confusion.

Creative Common/aloha orangeneko

Creative Common/aloha orangeneko

The day I unleashed my secret, I felt like I was walking a foot above ground. It was the end of hiding, a realization that I was not going to change and an indication that I had achieved some degree of self-acceptance. My friend came to pick me up the next morning, to escort me to the parade to march with 500,000 other people down Fifth Avenue, steps away from my parents’ apartment. It was one of the most freeing and jubilant days of my life.

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Posted on July 24, 2013

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Deena Has Four Mommies: Tales of Co-parenting in Tanach

Jews read sections of the Torah each week, and these sections, known as parshiyot, inspire endless examination year after year. Each week we will bring you regular essays examining these portions from a queer perspective, drawn from the book Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible and the Torah Queeries online collection. This week, Miryam Kabakov examines Biblical examples of co-parenting, looking for lessons that LGBTQ families can learn from today.

Creative Commons / Elliot Margolies

Creative Commons / Elliot Margolies

Looking up, Jacob saw Esau coming, accompanied by four hundred men. He divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maids, putting the maids and their children first, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph last.

(Gen. 33:1-2)

The passage from this week’s parsha (parshat Vayishlach) gives us a picture of a complicated family. If you think you have a complex living arrangement, look at Deena’s home. There are four mothers, one father, and twelve half- or full biological siblings. In this family, there was surely a lot of de facto co-parenting going on and today might be considered “alternative.” If it does take a village, this family has it made in the shade. But at the same time, it seems as if the matriarchs and patriarchs are in the dark about how to navigate family dynamics. Their lives are fraught with jealousy, deceit and one-upmanship. Rachel and Leah treat having children as a race to the finish. Yaakov’s hierarchical ranking of the mothers of his children doesn’t help: as the passage above makes clear, Yaakov is intentional in the placement of his family members as he readies himself to greet his long lost brother Esav. With vivid memories of Esav as a bloodthirsty hunter and fighter bent on revenge, Yaakov splits his camp. The reasoning is that if Esav does attack, at least half will survive. Continue reading

Posted on November 26, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy