Tag Archives: LGBT holidays

A Personal Message about Transgender Day of Remembrance

Rafi Daugherty

Rafi Daugherty

When I was growing up, as a little girl in the Orthodox Jewish community, I would stare longingly over the mechitza feeling betrayed by G-d for giving me a body that didn’t feel congruent with my soul. I never imagined that one day I would feel right in my body, accepted in my community, and able to walk freely in the world as a Jewish man.

This year, Jewish organizations across the U.S. are joining together to keep broadening and deepening that acceptance by observing Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).

Observed annually on November 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance was established as a day set aside for remembering the lives of those gender non-conforming individuals who were viciously murdered for being themselves. It is sometimes hard for us to make the leap between thinking about people being murdered and what that has to do with our community or with us. We think, “No one I know would ever murder a transgender person!” While that may be true, I challenge us all to ask ourselves:

What else can we take away from this day?

Most transgender people spend years hiding and fearing “coming out” because they do not have a community where they know they will be accepted. Many transgender people, like myself, have used drugs and alcohol to numb the pain of being “different,” and even contemplate suicide to escape from making the heart-wrenching choice between family and being true to themselves. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been different if I could have known as a child that I could be myself and also be a part of my community. . . .

I hope this day inspires us to ask ourselves:

*How can we make our community the type of community where a transgender child or adult will feel that they can safely express who they are and not only will we not shun them, we will love and embrace them, and encourage them down their chosen path?

*How can we use this day to bring an end to the silence around gender expression that might be allowing bullying in our Hebrew schools?

*How might we bring awareness to the issue of bathroom safety for gender non-conforming individuals in our institutions?

*How can we widen the arms of our communities’ embrace so that it can enfold the most stigmatized and ostracized individuals and bring them closer to G-d, to Judaism, and to themselves?

I ask you to take a moment to think about how you might use this day to find a way to make a difference. Next week we’ll share resources to help the Jewish community mark this day.

Posted on November 14, 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

Your Jewish Guide to Celebrating LGBTQ Pride

Every June people across the world celebrate LGBTQ Pride. As LGBTQ Jews and allies, we are proud of our own identities and those of our loved ones. Whether you are looking for a Pride Shabbat service, a fabulous Jewish sign to hold in a Pride Parade, or just want some inspiration, you’ve come to the right place!

I. EVENTS

Visit our Pride Events page for a list of Jewish LGBTQ Pride events happening across the United States (and a few in Canada too!) this June.

Visit the Pride Events Page

pride events

II. DOWNLOADS

Download your own Pride posters, stickers, and a graphic to help you celebrate and show your pride!

Visit the Download Page

download signsdownload stickersdownload facebook graphic

III. Sermons and D’vrei Torah

  • What is Jewish About Gay Pride? by David Levy
  • Pride! by Kadin Henningsen
  • Gay Pride, Red Cows, and the Cleansing Power of Ritual (Parashat Chukat and Parashat Balak) by Caryn Aviv
  • It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Parashat Korach) by Rabbi Karen Perolman
  • And a sweet article about a family outing to NYC Pride, Parade Queen: The Day My Niece Marched for Gay Pride by Marjorie Ingall
  • HAPPY PRIDE!

    Posted on June 5, 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

    Celebrating Harvey Milk Day

    Today Harvey Milk would have been 83. Instead, this gay Jewish hero, who was cut down in his prime, remains a vaunted icon of gay rights across the globe. On his birthday, now known as Harvey Milk Day, we celebrate his work, life, and lasting legacy. At Keshet, we’re honoring his life and achievements by bringing you some rare photos of this pioneer.

    After a career that included the Navy, high school teaching, and time on Wall Street, Milk moved to San Francisco. By 1973, he launched his first run for City Supervisor – and lost. In 1977, after his third attempt, he won the seat, becoming the first openly gay man ever elected to major public office in America. Harvey Milk was assassinated in 1978. His legacy of working for the civil rights of all and building coalitions among diverse groups continues to inspire and inform social justice work today. Enjoy this photo essay in honor of Harvey Milk, and check out events happening near you on the Harvey Milk Day website.

    1975: Harvey at opening of 1975 Campaign. Estate of Harvey Milk. James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center San Francisco Public Library.

    1975: Harvey at opening of 1975 Campaign. Estate of Harvey Milk. James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center San Francisco Public Library.

    1942: Harvey with brother Robert at Coney Island. James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library

    1942: Harvey with brother Robert at Coney Island. James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library

    Between 1953-54: Harvey and friend in the Navy

    Between 1953-54: Harvey and friend in the Navy

    Harvey Milk Giving a toast at a family wedding

    Harvey Milk giving a toast at a family wedding.

    1974: Harvey Milk on stage at Gay Day, San Francisco Civic Center. Don Eckert, James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.

    1974: Harvey Milk on stage at Gay Day, San Francisco Civic Center. Don Eckert, James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.

    1978: Flowers and San Francisco Examiner at City Hall steps the day after the assassinations. James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.

    1978: Flowers and San Francisco Examiner at City Hall steps the day after the assassinations. James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.

    Between 1972-78: Harvey in Castro. Camera: James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.

    Between 1972-78: Harvey in Castro. Camera: James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.

    LGBT Jewish Heroes poster Harvey Milk

    LGBT Jewish Heroes poster

    You can get your own Harvey Milk poster to celebrate Harvey Milk Day as part of Keshet’s LGBT Jewish Heroes project. (20% discount on the series today. Use code: HMD at checkout.)

    Special thanks to the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center San Francisco Public Library for access to these wonderful photos.

    Posted on May 22, 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

    Celebrate Bisexuality Day!

    It seemed obvious to me that Celebrate Bisexuality Day is supposed be a celebration and featuring a list of notable Jewish bisexuals on the Keshet blog seemed like a great way to do that.

    Bisexuals marching

    As it turns out, easier said than blogged. My local library didn’t have any card catalog listings for “famous bi Jews.” There’s definitely stuff out there on the Internet, but searching for information on bi Jews isn’t as easy as finding stuff on gay Jews or LGBT Jews in general.

    The sampling below is far from comprehensive or complete, but it is our contribution towards celebrating bisexuality, bisexuals, and the notion that there are, indeed, a lot of notable bi Jews out there – if only we remember to look.

    Jennifer Baumgardner

    Jennifer BaumgardnerIt’s important to include the person who actually wrote the book on bisexuality. Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics garnered major praise for its hopeful tone and smart challenge to all sorts of bi-stereotypes. (She also got a lot of deserved praise for writing a book about bisexuality, period.)

     

     

    Sandra Bernhard

    Sandra BernhardThis comedic lady is out, loud, and proud. Raised in a Jewish household, she even lived on a kibbutz for a short time in her late teens (wonder if they thought she was funny?). It’s not everybody who can tell David Letterman on live TV, “I know Madonna and I know Sean Penn and I’ve been with both of them!”

     

     

    Leonard Bernstein

    Leonard Bernstein This famous composer and conductor not only had the distinction of leading symphonies at the most prestigious opera halls across the world, writing the music for such musicals as West Side Story and Candide — he also conducted the inaugural concert of the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv! Though Bernstein’s relationships with men were well known, he also married a Chilean actress with whom he had three children. According to many accounts, their marriage was happy, so we’ve included him here! Bernstein was also a collaborator with another artist on our list, Jerome Robbins.

    Sammy Davis, Jr.

    Sammy Davis Jr.This sweet-toned crooner and actor has the distinction of being black, a convert to Judaism and reportedly bisexual (his relationships were the subject of speculation). It’s a testament to his immense abilities and talents that despite belonging to a minority-within-a-minority, he was immensely popular as a singer and an actor.




    A.M. Homes

    A. M. HomesThis frankly dark novelist is very straightforward about her bisexuality, though her Jewish roots — explored along with the rest of her family history in her memoir The Mistress’s Daughter — make for more complicated writing fodder.




    Rabbi Debra Kolodny

    Rabbi Debra KolodnyWhat’s a list of famous bi Jews without a rabbi? Rabbi Debra Kolodny wrote the seminal book on bisexuality and faith, Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexual People of Faith. She is the Executive Director of Nehirim and was previously the spiritual leader of Pnai Or in Portland, OR and led ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal for nine years.




    Cynthia Nixon

    Cynthia Nixon with partner Christine Marinoni

    The proud mom of kids she’s choosing to raise Jewish (the children’s father, Nixon’s exDanny Mozes, is Jewish), Nixon has been the Pride Shabbat speaker at the New York LGBT synagogue, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. After breaking up with Mozes, Nixon made waves not only by dating her (female) partner, and becoming an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage, but for such public statements as, “I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.” Try not to be star-struck when you see her in shul on the Upper West Side of New York.

     

    Jerome Robbins

    RobbinJerome Robbins s – or Jerry Rabinowitz, as his parents called him – was an award-winning dancer, director, and choreographer. Though probably best known for his stunning choreography in West Side Story, Robbins also worked on a number of Jewish-themed Broadway hits, including Funny Girl and Fiddler on the Roof. Robbins’s long-term relationship with actor Montgomery Clift is known, and he’s often referred to as bisexual.

     

     

    Susan Sontag

    Though she claSusan Sontag imed to have never been inside a synagogue until she was in her twenties, Sontag was Jewish and actually examined the Yom Kippur War in her 1974 piece, Promised Lands.

    Although we know about a number of Sontag’s relationships with women, including her decade-long relationship with photographer Annie Leibovitz, Sontag was not very public about her sexuality, telling Out Magazine, “Maybe I could have given comfort to some people if I had dealt with the subject of my private sexuality more, but it’s never been my prime mission to give comfort, unless somebody’s in drastic need. I’d rather give pleasure, or shake things up.”

     

    Rebecca Walker

    The daughteRebecca Walkerr of acclaimed author and activist Alice Walker is a noted writer in her own right. Her 2002 memoir, Black White and Jewish, explored many aspects of her identity, including what it means to be biracial – and bisexual. For Walker, fluidity is key to understanding herself, and that extends to her sexual orientation, as well.

     

    That’s our short list! We know it was brief — so tell us who we forgot!

    Posted on September 24, 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

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