Queering Judaism

By Joanna Ware

Joanna posits that listening to the insights and perspectives informed by a view from the margins, underbelly, and sidelines of Judaism strengthens Judaism.

My parents joined a synagogue when I was eight years old, at my behest. When I began expressing a need for spiritual and religious community, they attempted to channel my desires in the direction of religious communities more palatable to my father’s anti-authoritarian, agnostic, fundamentally scientific worldview. Though halachically Jewish, I also am the child of two agnostic scientists from different faith backgrounds, which has meant a complicated relationship with religion in my family. We sat in on Quaker meetings, attended Unitarian Services, even toured the meditation grounds of the Self Realization Fellowship, but none of them quite grabbed my interest. When we left erev Shabbat services at the local synagogue, though, something had stuck in my head and my gut, and we joined the next week.

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1 thought on “Queering Judaism

  1. Joanna

    Great article! Thank you so much.

    I disagree with you on one minor point, though. Abraham and Sarah’s status as tumtumim is not “queering” the text–and by that I mean, it is not providing an “alternate reading” of a text. The strength of that passage for queer people is that it comes from a mainstream text of our tradition (that has been brought to the present-day classroom by genderqueer and trans people) because it speaks to our lives. It is, if you will, “unbent” (to use Rabbi Joshua Lesser and Gregg Drinkwater’s terminology) tradition, used on behalf of honoring today’s Jewish queer lives. It is a blessing to know that, in the mainstream texts of our tradition, _we are always already there_.

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