For Pride Month this year, the Library would like to highlight some Jewish LGBTQIA+ books and resources that have been published recently. These illustrate some of the impact the LGBTQIA+ Jewish community has had on the wider Jewish world. One of the most important resources, published in 2019 is Noam Sienna’s A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969. In this book, which won both the 2020 Judaica Reference Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries, and the 2020 Lambda Literary Award, Sienna documents 120 texts from the period under study. These documents, translated from sixteen different languages, range from poetry, midrash, memoir and other genres documenting the Jewish queer experience throughout place and time. As many in the gay community see Jewish tradition and history as rejecting queer identities, Sienna’s book shows that these accounts have been part of the Jewish experience for millennia.
Another important book published in 2023 is Queer Judaism by Orit Avishai. This work focuses on how LGBTQIA+ Orthodox people in Israel are changing their situation and creating community for themselves with other LGBTQIA+ Orthodox Jews. While this book is about the Israeli context, there have been positive changes here in the US Orthodox community as well, with an increase in LGBTQIA+ groups and recognition that there are Orthodox LGBTQIA+ people who have found or created ways to express this identity. One such recently formed group is the LGBTQIA+ group at Yeshiva University, which, while controversial, shows that there are advocates openly embracing this identity in this flagship institution.
Another resource is Becoming Eve: My journey from ultra-Orthodox rabbi to transgender woman, by Abby Stein, which explains her journey in a very poignant and moving manner. Chaver up!: 49 Rabbis explore what it means to be an ally through a Jewish lens, by Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum and Mike Moskowitz, shows the many ways one can be an ally through analyzing traditional texts and rituals as well as other Jewish sources. Rabbi Moskowitz is also the author of Graceful Masculinity which was published in 2021. That book deals with Jewish ideas of masculinity and how all gender expressions and identities can be valued in the Jewish community as well as the wider world. Another recent book is Trans Talmud by Max Strassfeld, dealing androgynes and eunuchs in rabbinic literature and history.
The Library has these and many more LGBTQIA+ Jewish resources to inform and help celebrate Pride Month here at HUC. Come in and explore our wealth of materials on these topics!
Eli Lieberman, Assistant Librarian, New York Campus