We Are The Light: What Parshat Tetzavah Teaches Us About Coming Out

Last weekend a group of 60+ LGBTQ and ally teens joined together for the 4th annual Keshet/Hazon LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton. These words of Torah were shared by one of the participants during Shabbat services.

In Parshat Tetzavah, God gives Moses his holy grocery list: oil lighting for the Menorah, some fancy spices for the oil, and some other spices to burn in the sanctuary. You know… the usual. God didn’t just send Moses on this shopping spree for fun. God knew that the Kohanim needed to see the oil before they began doing their job: guiding the Jewish nation. They needed to know there would be, literally, light at the end of the tunnel before they started going into it.

LGBTQ-Teen-Shabbaton-325x246At the Keshet/Hazon Shabbaton last year, I was openly out for the first time. The joke of the attendees was going up to me and asking, “Val, are you gay?” because I couldn’t stop saying it. But I figured out I was gay in 7th grade. So why did it take so long for me to be me?

Just like the Kohanim, I also had doubts about navigating through the tunnel, finding my light. I’m sure quite a few of you in this room know that tunnel, and it’s pretty damn dark.

I tried to make myself straight, which basically meant throwing in comments about whether I was team Jacob or team Edward every once in a while. Let’s be real, I’m team Kristen Stewart.

When I realized I couldn’t force myself to be straight, the denial and depression hit me like the tidal wave when Pharaoh tried to cross the Red Sea. I barely spoke to anyone, dropped all my activities, shut out my friends, and was this close to going into another type of tunnel, the one you don’t come back from.

Then I came out to my best friend, and I started my own Coming Out 101 to prepare for this process. This course will be coming to college campuses near you soon. (Juuust kidding.) Anyway, it was time to start shopping, time to pull out the gay grocery list. I stayed up every night watching every coming out video I could find. I studied each method, trying to figure out the perfect formula to come out, trying to find a solution that didn’t really exist.

God gave Moses a list of everything he needed to be a leader, but what really made Moses realize what he needed to do was getting thrown into the trenches when he least expected it. Because yes, the Kohanim needed oil and spices for the Menorah because that’s what makes a fire—that’s science. But would the fire burn if nobody lit the match?

I’m going to tell you something that took me way too long to figure out, something I realized right here in this room last year.

You can watch every coming out video on the internet. You can practice saying it every morning in your mirror. You can shop in every aisle, from realization to depression to denial, you can hate yourself and love yourself and try to find the RIGHT way to be, but the reality is that E may equal MC2, but your identity isn’t a math problem.

Your identity isn’t a problem at all.

And when you realize that, whether you already have or you do this weekend or you do in five years, you ignite a fire. You light your own menorah. And let me tell you, that’s just the beginning.

rainbow tallitYou may be used to getting butterflies because somebody sees your rainbow tallit and you think, oh no, what if they know, please don’t know, but soon you’re going to get butterflies because the person you love is holding your hand and everything’s finally in place. You may be used to walking alone in your school hallway, hiding yourself, but soon you’re going to walk alongside others of the same movement, waving a flag for your identity with hundreds of people, all creating a rhythm for justice. You may be used to praying to God in your synagogue to please help you, because you don’t know how much longer you can last, but soon, SO soon, you will be sitting proudly at your table for Shabbat dinner, because mazel tov, you made it.

But don’t stop there. Remember your roots. Send this message on and help somebody else light their menorah. Together, we can get out of this tunnel.

Because here’s the secret that shouldn’t be a secret: we are the light, Keshet. All you gotta do is strike the match.

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Posted on March 3, 2015

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Marriage: A Political Act, A Religious Endeavor, A Chance to Celebrate Love

AbiandMelissaTransplants to California from the Midwest and East Coast, we found each other in the Bay Area. Melissa, a minister in a Protestant Christian tradition, was in her first year as a PhD student in ethics and social theory and Abi, an active participant at her queer Jewish synagogue, was in her first year of her doctoral studies in clinical psychology. Ours has been a journey of learning about each other’s traditions and celebrating what it means to be a multi-faith couple.

Entering into marriage was for us a political act, a religious endeavor, and an opportunity to invite our family and friends into our world.

From the time we decided we would mark our commitment to one another with a wedding, we knew that the ceremony needed to be the focus of the day. We set out to find leaders who would be willing to co-create a multi-faith, feminist, and queer ceremony with us.

Melissa was fortunate enough to be able to turn to a colleague from her seminary days who she knew shared her theology and commitment to radically open language for the divine in ritual. We knew he was still bound by the policies of the church but should the institution not catch up to our love in time that he would be willing to act independently as a theologically trained friend.

Finding someone from Abi’s Jewish tradition turned out to be much more challenging. Trusted leaders, while willing to perform similar-gendered Jewish ceremonies, were unable, because of tradition and/or conscience, to participate in our fully multi-faith ceremony. As a family seeking to be a part of both Jewish and Christian communities, this felt like rejection and was excruciatingly painful.

We finally found a Jewish leader in Colorado who was willing to work with us to craft a ceremony that honored both traditions and truly reflected who we were as individuals and as a couple. The four of us, the two brides, a Pastor and an Emerging Rabbi took to creating. By examining all of the parts of the traditional wedding ceremony in both traditions we were able to identify elements both in common and unique to each tradition. Anything that reflected aspects of marriage that we reject—property exchange, paternalism, misogyny—was cut. Elements were re-imagined to be more egalitarian and / or queered. We wanted to create a ceremony that was true to who we are and meaningful for those celebrating with us.

The whole wedding weekend, including the reception, was a blast. We wanted our guests to know that each piece of our wedding was intentionally orchestrated so we had our leaders explain what the rituals meant during the ceremony and how we had altered them and even provided coloring books for the children to learn about the ceremony in an age-appropriate way.

Entering into the legal relationship of marriage, as imperfect as it is, was a way to claim our civil rights and the protections it bestows upon us and a way to honor the work of all those who work for equality. Our ceremony was our way of claiming our right as members of our religious traditions to enter into public covenant blessed by and accountable to community and proclaiming that being queer and being religious are not antithetical. It was our way of publicly proclaiming that we are committed to being together as two individuals with strong roots, Jewish and Lutheran, Abi and Melissa.

We are grateful for the support of our family and friends, including Reverend Dan Roschke and Emerging Rabbi Dr. Caryn Aviv.

Posted on February 27, 2015

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Ellen and Janis: A Love Story

This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we are sharing love stories. We heard about a proposal at a Pride Parade from Aden and his fiance, Josh, a story of love and parenthood, what it means to bedemisexual, and how to enjoy Valentine’s Day while single. If you have a love story for the Keshet blog, let us know

The year was 1983, it was springtime and love was in the air. We were both 23 years old. I was just Jande2finishing college at Northeastern University and Ellen had moved to Boston from NY and was living on Beacon Hill with some old college girlfriends. Every Wednesday night, the now defunct lesbian bar, The Marquee in Central Square Cambridge, featured a dance party, and we both attended.

We saw each other that night, Ellen asked me to dance, and the rest is history.

We began dating, and 3 months later we moved in together and setup house. (Long time for a young lesbian couple!) I graduated from school and Ellen began a masters program at Emerson College. We bought our first home together in the Southend in 1987 and since that time have we have lived in the South End, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and now back to Jamaica Plain.

JandEInitially I worked in commercial theatre, managing the Wang Center, the Colonial Theatre and later becoming Director of Operations for Clear Channel Entertainment. Ellen was in sales first in advertising and then office furniture, she than went on to real estate sales where I joined her in the business about 11 years ago.

We married in 2010 at Larz Anderson park using the gazebo as our huppah and have been together for almost 32 years. We now have a successful real estate team. In our spare time we love to travel, go to services at Temple Sinai, spend time on the Cape, where we are fortunate to own a home in Ptown and work tirelessly for human rights. We are proud supporters of Keshet and the work they do.

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Posted on February 24, 2015

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Ask Asher: All About Love

asherHave a question about LGBTQ life? Jewish life? LGBTQ Jewish Life? Ask Asher! Send your questions to AskAsher@keshetonline.org and you might be featured in our next column

Hi Asher,
Valentine’s Day came and went, and just like every year pink and red heart decorations everywhere reminded me just how single I am. I’ve been hearing a lot about self-love and self-compassion. What is that and how do you do it? I know nothing is wrong with being single, but this time of year it can feel pretty lonely.

Best,
Chronically Single

Dear Chronically Single,
Self-love and self-compassion is, well, feeling love and compassion for one’s self. How does one “do it”? That’s entirely up to you. First of all, just because the film, music, and advertising industries (among others) have all done a very successful job in convincing all of us that being single is literally the worst thing ever ever ever, that’s not actually true.

I realize that as someone who has been in a relationship for the greater part of a decade, it’s rather easy for me to say this, but the truth is that there may not be a “one” for everyone. Not everybody partners off, and that’s completely okay; some of the happiest and most interesting seniors I know are those that never “settled down.” It is one of life’s uncertainties. This is where self-love comes into play.

Whether or not you are destined to spend your life with another person, there is one relationship that you will definitely be in your entire life, and that is the relationship you have with yourself. Self-love is not as simple as “learning to love yourself,” it’s also about becoming the version of yourself that is worth loving. If you aren’t happy with the way things are going in your life and the way that affects you as a person, then you need to change those aspects of your life. Trust me, this is no easy task, but I promise you that it is worth the rewards; it took me years to become someone worth my own love, let alone the love of others. You are the only person who will be on your side 100% of the time, so make sure you are worth it. Plus, self-awareness is a huge turn-on, and it will make you that much more attractive to potential partners. It is no accident that the times I was single in my life roughly coincided with the periods when I didn’t believe in myself like I should have.

Believing in You,
Asher

Dear Asher,
I’ve got my eye on a Jewish guy I know through friends. I’ve never dated anyone Jewish before, and I don’t actually know many Jews. (Interestingly enough, part of my family is Jewish, but I wasn’t raised to be observant, or with any real knowledge of Jewish culture or history). What should I know before I approach him? 

Signed,
Jew-ish and Looking

Dear Jew-ish and Looking,

What should you know before you approach this Jewish guy you are connected to? His name. Seriously. The rest you can discover by asking him yourself.

When I first read your question, it actually made me rather angry, because you are working under the assumption that all Jews have more or less the same experience; that my being Jewish is somehow related to his being Jewish. Then I realized that this may not entirely be your fault; the thing about being Jewish is that it is a rather unique identifier. It is simultaneously describing three things, without necessarily being all three of them. When someone describes themselves as a Jew, they could be talking about a race, a religion, and/or a culture. It’s not like other religions that are more based in faith. You cannot be a non-practicing Catholic in the same way you can be a non-practicing Jew. All Jews have at least one of these traits, but they don’t necessarily have all of them (all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares). So, to answer your question, I don’t know anything about his being Jewish, because being Jewish can be so many things. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching this guy because you don’t know enough about him yet, you’ll need to get to know him better (I’d recommend asking him yourself).

Good Luck!
Asher

Dear Asher,
Love is sure in the air, as my partner and I are engaged! We’re pretty excited, although we don’t want our wedding to seem like just another cog in the wedding industrial complex machine. We want our wedding to reflect who we are as a couple—which is two queer kids in love. What rituals can we incorporate to make this happen? Any suggestions on reading to include or shout outs to make that won’t seem out of place at a wedding? 

Signed,
Tying the Knot, Rainbow Style

Dear Tying the Knot,

First of all, congratulations! Planning a wedding can either be a dream or a nightmare, depending upon your approach, but it seems like you kids have your heads in the right place. One of the wonderful things about being queer is that we kind of have free reign to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, when it comes to ceremony. I don’t know much about the two of you, so I would feel strange suggesting any readings or ceremonies that I would feel could be meaningful to both of you. The one piece of advice I can give you is that you should make your wedding, well, your wedding. You want your wedding to be a reflection of who you both of you are, so you should find someone who knows you and bounce ideas off of him or her. My husband and I are close friends with the rabbi who married us, and we had weekly Skype meetings to build our perfect ceremony (there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd).

KeshetQueerJewishValentines_MarryMeWhat separated our wedding from being “another cog in the wedding industrial complex machine” was that it was so inherently us. Sit down with the people who are participating in your wedding and build it together; make it a fun, bonding activity. A tool you might want to use is Pinterest, which is a nifty way of reviewing and collecting ideas from the internet. Ultimately, it’s up to you what you do, and as long as you are happy, you shouldn’t feel worried about something being “out of place,” especially at your own wedding.

Perhaps find a rainbow-colored glass to break? Wishing you both years of happiness together, and, of course, one truly fabulous wedding.

Asher

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Posted on February 18, 2015

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When Sam Met Sami: Making Time to Find Love

This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we are sharing love stories. We heard about a proposal at a Pride Parade from Aden and his fiance, Josh, a story of love and parenthood, what it means to be demisexual, and how to enjoy Valentine’s Day while single. If you have a love story for the Keshet blog, let us know

Sam

Sam

I was the typical commuter grad student. I worked two jobs, hung out with my friends, and watched Pretty Little Liars on Tuesday Nights. Of my two jobs, my work at a Harley-Davidson dealership was my favorite. Life was pretty much—well almost—perfect.

The only thing missing was having a cute girl to text.

I grew up in a very Jewish area so I dated a lot of Jewish people, but it wasn’t a requirement for me. I saw it as a nice “bonus.” It was nice to be with someone that I could celebrate the holidays with. My parents are interfaith, so I always felt most comfortable dating someone who identified as Reform or Reconstructionist, even though I was raised Conservative. And, I tend to go for Jewish looking girls. I like dark eyes and dark hair. I like an average build and not too tall (I’m only 4’11).

Between work and school meeting people wasn’t always easy. I had an amazing work schedule, but I had Saturday classes for my grad program. My Friday nights were pretty much nonexistent.

When one of my co-workers asked me what I was doing for Halloween, I explained that weekend classes pretty much ruined any Friday night social plans. She insisted that I should do something. I thought to myself, she does make a good point.

I decided to venture over to the Pride Center for a Halloween Party. This being my third time there, I only knew a few people and was eager to meet more. I thought to myself, “ If I meet someone, that’s great, if I make more friends that would be great too.”

I sat down and started noshing on some of the snacks at the party. In walks this super cute girl in a green costume with braids and red tips in her hair. She ends up sitting next to me.

Sami

Sami

In my head, I’m thinking: Is she someone’s straight supportive friend, Is she someone’s girlfriend? After I chase away all of these thoughts in my head, I strike up a conversation.

We talk about our names (we have the same first name, luckily she tends to go by Sami and I go by Sam), work, school, food, sports, and cars. We talked about a local restaurant, Harold’s, and how it has the best matzah ball soup.

That’s when I was stopped to ask, “Are you Jewish?”  I later found out that our backgrounds were nearly identical. Her mom is Roman Catholic like mine and her Dad is Jewish, as is mine. I converted when I was very young but Sami did not.

I have to thank Sami’s favorite professor for giving her that nudge that brought her to the Pride Center that night. I believe that it was bashert, or meant to be, that we met that night. I believe that G-d has a plan for everyone, and I’m so happy that Sami is a part of mine.

We celebrated our three month anniversary this Valentine’s Day.

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Posted on February 17, 2015

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Celebrate All kinds of Love with our Queer Jewish Valentines!

This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, Keshet is sharing love stories. We heard about a proposal at a Pride Parade from Aden and his fiance, Josh, a story of love and parenthood, what it means to be demisexual, and how to celebrate Valentine’s Day if you’re single. Today we’re sharing our collection of Valentines inspired by LGBTQ and Jewish themes. We encourage you to share these with your friends, family, and of course, with your loved ones.

KeshetQueerJewishValentine__Pastrami KeshetQueerJewishValentines_MarryMe KeshetQueerValentines_Challah KeshetQueerValentines_Gefilte Fish KeshetQueerValentines_Mechitza KeshetQueerValentines_Shul KeshetQueerValentines_Social Construct KeshetQueerValetines_Passover

To save your favorite Queer Jewish Valentine: right click and select “Save image as.”

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Posted on February 12, 2015

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Being Single on Valentine’s Day

This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, Keshet is sharing love stories. We heard about a proposal at a Pride Parade from Aden and his fiance, Josh, a story of love and parenthood, and what it means to be demisexual. If you have a love story for the Keshet blog, let us know!  And, celebrate all kinds of love with our queer Jewish Valentines! 

I’ve been single for nearly 4 years.

DanielThe last time I had a Valentine’s day date was 2011. Actually, that has probably been the only time I’ve had a “Valentine.” So, to say that I have had complicated opinions on this particular holiday, would be an understatement. I’ve gone from absolutely dreading it and refusing to acknowledging it, to now, marking the day in my own special way. Recognizing the love of self.

The Torah teaches us “V’ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha”, or, “Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”. What does this mean? For me, I think it highlights the idea that you cannot truly love someone else until you fully love yourself. Or as the world-famous drag queen and TV personality, RuPaul, says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” Can I get an amen indeed!

Finding a person to enter into a romantic relationship with is challenging. A lot of it is, arguably, out of our control: fate, luck, chance, timing, chemistry. What we can control is how we love ourselves. Self- care and self- love is a journey that all of us are constantly on.

One of the most important steps for me on that journey was coming out and loving myself as a gay man, being proud of that aspect of my identity—something that took 19 years. Once I was honest with myself about that, the floodgates opened and I began to explore more aspects of who I was, not that they weren’t there before, but by loving my gay identity, I was able to love all other aspects of myself.

During this period in which I was learning to truly love myself, Valentine’s Day turn on a variety of meanings. After I first came out and I was desperately wanting to be in a relationship but wasn’t in one, Valentine’s Day became a day of mourning for a romantic love I didn’t have. Sometimes I would react with sarcasm and anger-celebrating Single Friend Awareness Day.

As I matured and became more comfortable in my identity, I realized that Valentine’s Day could be a day to celebrate love in all of its form, including yourself. That’s why, this year, I plan on using the day to take care of myself. To treat myself. To love myself. Once I committed myself to this, and stopped worrying about finding a Valentine’s Day date, I was amazed to discover that I wasn’t stressed out about not being a relationship.

I’m looking forward to taking myself out to spending the day doing my favorite things—exploring New York City, taking myself out to a nice dinner, and seeing a Broadway show. But why only practice self-love on Valentine’s Day? When you take care of your personal needs, every day can be Valentine’s Day! And if loving yourself makes it easier to show love to other people and receive their love, then perhaps this act of self-love will help make my sphere of influence a more inclusive place!

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Posted on February 11, 2015

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Parenting an Openly Gay Orthodox Teen

In this post from Kveller, Elana Altzman reflects on her family’s journey when her oldest son came out. You can read the post in its entirety here.

13458701445_0ea733e792_zThe conversation over Shavuot lunch at a friend’s house three years ago started innocently enough—we were talking about the Israeli Rabbinate’s reluctance to provide kosher supervision to food served at non-Orthodox events in Israeli hotels. One of the guests at the meal responded with, “The rabbis have to control who comes in. What if homosexuals come in?”

Like me, this guest was a mother of four sons, an immigrant who came here as a young girl, a woman who did not grow up observant, but became observant as a young adult. Our kids were close in age. Perhaps these similarities made her comment even more shocking to me. Like her, I love my children and care about their happiness, education, and religious commitment. Unlike her, I have a gay son.

My oldest had came out to us a few months before, at the end of his sophomore year in high school. At 16, he was secure enough to come out first to two of his closest friends, then to us, and then to all his friends outside of our community.

But in our neighborhood and our shul in Brooklyn, he remained completely closeted, and knew his chances of being accepted, or even allowed to remain in the shul he grew up in, were slim. He tested the waters some, mentioning that a friend from a summer program was gay, an acquaintance was a lesbian. A neighborhood friend told him gays are disgusting. Another informed him he would burn in hell for being friends with a lesbian girl. An adult leader of the youth minyan, where my son lead services and read Torah regularly, railed against the lifting of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” one Shabbat morning, as part of his discussion of the weekly Torah portion, telling the kids in attendance that homosexuality would lead to the downfall of our society. Another adult shul member told him that someone like him, a teen who was accepting of gays, did not belong in the shul we had been members of for over a decade.

How much worse would it be if he were out as gay himself? We feared the repercussions on all our children, the emotional trauma that would result when our son would be rejected by the community he grew up in. That Shavuot conversation reaffirmed our fears. Our son quickly said goodbye and left the holiday lunch; our younger kids were playing, and my husband and I were thankful that they were unaware of the conversation.

Read the post in its entirety at Kveller.

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Posted on February 10, 2015

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Falling in Love While Demisexual and Jewish

This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, Keshet is sharing love stories. Last week we heard from Aden and Josh, and the details of their proposal while marching at Pride with Keshet. We also heard from Lee in his piece “On Love and Parenthood.” Today we are sharing Jamie’s story about finding someone who matched their Judaism and their sexuality. If you have a love story for the Keshet blog, let us knowCelebrate all kinds of love with our queer Jewish Valentines! 

I kissed my partner for the first time on Memorial Drive, with the Charles River and the nighttime Boston skyline sparkling in the background. Leaving aside the catcalls from a passing cyclist, it was a picture-perfect romantic moment. But more remarkable to me than the romance was the fact that I was kissing a man I had known for only two weeks—and I wanted to be kissing him. For me, this was completely unprecedented.

q6zDoD4I identify as demisexual, which is a sexual orientation on the asexual spectrum. My default state is asexual, meaning that in general I’m not sexually attracted to anyone. But every so often, once I’ve formed a strong romantic and emotional connection with someone, I find myself becoming sexually attracted to that person. It doesn’t happen every time I’m romantically interested in someone. But if it does happen, it’s as if I become sexual only toward that person. I’m still not sexually attracted to anyone else.

This tends to make dating complicated, especially in the earliest stages of a relationship. Because I need to build an emotional connection with someone before I can be sexually attracted to them, it takes a long time before I can be physically intimate with a new person in any sense—even kissing. I’ve had to figure out how to communicate to new partners that I can’t be sexually intimate with them at first, without scaring them into believing that I’ll never want to have sex with them. It’s possible that I won’t, but it’s also possible that I will.

Put my demisexuality together with my unusual Jewish identity—observant, but most comfortable in pluralistic Jewish spaces—and you’ll see why, for a long time, I worried that I’d never find someone who was a match for me. Even when I found someone willing to wait around while I sorted out whether I had sexual feelings for them, we would often end up hitting a wall when it came to Jewish practice. They wouldn’t feel comfortable in my Jewish communities, or they would be unwilling to adopt my observant lifestyle.

My current partner was different. We went on six dates in the first two weeks we knew each other, and by the fifth date I knew I wanted to kiss him. This baffled me—I had never wanted to kiss someone I’d known for such a short time. I couldn’t tell if I was falling for him really quickly, or if he was somehow the exception to everything I’d previously known about myself. All I knew was that kissing him by the river that evening felt right.

I quickly realized that my partner hadn’t been the exception, after all. I had simply fallen in love with him, and become sexually attracted to him, faster than anyone I’d known before. I remain demisexual, and my partner is completely okay with that. He respects my identity, and is willing to put up with my somewhat quirky brand of sexuality. And we’ve turned out to be Jewishly compatible as well. In short, things are going great with my partner and me.

One thing still nags at me. Although Judaism and demisexuality are both central to my identity and to my romantic life, I experience them as almost entirely separate from each other. Judaism, as far as I know, is completely silent on the subject of asexuality. And so I don’t know where I fit into the Jewish tradition as a demisexual person. I’m still searching for a way to unite these two crucial aspects of who I am.

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Posted on February 9, 2015

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On Love and Parenting

This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we are sharing love stories. We kicked things off with a two part series from Aden and his fiance, Josh. Today’s story is one of love and parenthood. If you have a love story for the Keshet blog, let us know!  Celebrate all kinds of love with our queer Jewish Valentines! 

Lonely.
Fear.
Anger.
The Closet.

Hope.
Liberation.
Self-Determination.
Coming Out.

Lust.
Sex.
Love.
Dating.

Commitment.
Community.
Bonding.
Marriage.

Longing.
Questioning.
Exploring.
Dreaming of our family.

Anxiety.
Anticipation.
Joy.
Conception.

Heart pumping.
Adrenaline racing.
Tears streaming.
Birth.

Love.
Love.
Love.
Family.

This is the journey of our lives. Having been together for over 19 years, my husband and I have traveled this wonderful path. If we had only overcome the first stage, dayenu, that would have been enough. Had we only reached just one additional stage thereafter, dayenu, that too would have been enough.

But, we did want more. While we had a very full and blessed life as a couple we knew very early on in our relationship that we shared a mutual desire to have children and create a family. How we would do so remained elusive for several years until we decided to have children via surrogacy.

Lee and his family.

Lee and his family.

Today, we are blessed with two beautiful children, an almost 8-year old son and 4-year old daughter. They are the true joys of our lives. They complete us and we are blessed.

In writing this blog, I was asked to ponder how love and parenthood go hand in hand. So many books have been written. So many stories have been told.  In so many ways I feel inadequate and certainly very humbled trying to articulate my own thoughts and ideas about such an important and awesome emotion and responsibility. Yet, I recognize that with all that has been said in literature, in the press, on social media, so much more needs to be said because the writings of love about LGBT parenting remains under-represented and certainly under constant attack. My husband and I stand in stark contrast to that precept and loudly say that we love our children unequivocally and as wholly and as wholesomely as any loving and devoted parent on the planet.

When I saw my son crawl and then walk, I felt love.

When my daughter gives me a kiss and a hug, I feel love.

When my son performs his piano recital, I feel love.

When my daughter kicks the ball and rides her bike, I feel love.

When my husband and I sit down to Shabbos dinner every Friday night and recite the parental blessings over our children, I feel love.

When I wake my children up in the morning and prepare them for school, make their lunch and put them on the school bus, I feel love.

When my husband puts our children to bed at night, reads them a book, sings a song or lullaby, I feel love.

When they spend time with their cousins, their grandmother, their loved ones, I feel love.

When I pick my children up from Hebrew School and they tell me a story from the Torah that they learned this week, I feel love.

When we roll around the floor, get goofy, make silly noises and have all out belly laughs, I feel love.

Love.

That’s what I feel every day I wake up and look into my children’s eyes.

This is love. This is my love. And no one will tell me otherwise.

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Posted on February 5, 2015

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