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Every Orthodox Rabbi Ought To Read This Book About The Lives Of LGBTQ Orthodox Jews

Every Orthodox Rabbi Ought To Read This Book About The Lives Of LGBTQ Orthodox Jews

Just a few days ago, a Jewish teenager from South Africa committed suicide while on an organized trip to Israel. Before dying, the 19-year-old—a first-year medical school student—wrote a note on his phone that he was struggling with his sexual identity and his place in the Modern Orthodox community he belonged to.

“Trying to pretend to be something I am not in front of you all is becoming more trying by the day as I’m not the heterosexual being I portray for you. I wish I could have told you guys everything and I know you would have understood, but deep down, I know our relationship would have changed,” the teenager reportedly wrote.

It’s crucial that Jewish institutions, leaders, and publications give visibility to the conversation on LGBT identities in Judaism, rather than avoiding it. The erasure of the issue is unlikely to stop tragedies like this to happen again. Only by having more open discussions on the matter we can try to foster an environment in which no teenager will ever bee so afraid to reveal their sexual identity that they prefer to die.

A New Program Offers A Space For Non-Binary Mitzvahs

A New Program Offers A Space For Non-Binary Mitzvahs

During middle school, Yoni Kollin took part in “Shevet,” a Jewish teen group in Los Angeles for boys post-bar mitzvah. The program, facilitated by Moving Traditions, a Jewish organization that provides progressive educational teen programming, offered a parallel program for girls, too, called “Rosh Hodesh.”

Yet for Kollin, neither program was a perfect fit. Kollin, who is now 18 years old and a senior in a high school on the Westside, identifies as non-binary and goes by the pronoun “they.” Read the full article here.

Mutiny In Milan: Meet Italy’s First Orthodox Woman Rabbi-To-Be

Mutiny In Milan: Meet Italy’s First Orthodox Woman Rabbi-To-Be

Miriam Camerini is the first Italian woman to enroll in an Orthodox rabbinical studies program in Israel.

She revealed it earlier this winter in an article she wrote for JOI (Jewish, Open & Inclusive) Magazine, an independent Jewish publication. The comments ensued: But, contrary to expectations, they were overwhelmingly positive. On social media, fellow Jewish Italian women congratulated Camerini. Someone wrote: “It reminds me of a beautiful movie with Barbra Streisand…”, referring to Yentl, the fictional character of a short story written by Isaac Bashevis Singer who pretended to be a man so that she could study in a yeshiva.

Unlike Yentl, Camerini won’t have to cut her hair short or wear a yarmulke.

A Walk Through Bukharian Queens — Just Don’t Call It ‘Russian’

A Walk Through Bukharian Queens — Just Don’t Call It ‘Russian’

The most common misconception about Bukharian Jews?

Manashe Khaimov hesitates for a few seconds, then answers: “That we are Russian Jews. The only thing we share with Russian Jews,” he continues, “are the 70 years we lived under the Soviet Union. For 2,000 years, we had a different history, a different culture.”

A community little-known even to other Jews, Bukharian Jewry claims two millennia of history in Central Asia, namely in today’s Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, most of them migrated to Israel and the United States. Khaimov estimates that, today, some 70,000 Bukharians live in Queens, New York.

This $500 Pure Silk Tallit Is Produced In An Italian Village — Alongside Hermes Scarves

This $500 Pure Silk Tallit Is Produced In An Italian Village — Alongside Hermes Scarves

Like many traditional Jewish brides, Dora Piperno wanted to give her future husband a tallit — a Jewish prayer shawl — as a wedding gift. With one difference: She wanted to give him a tallit made of silk, the same material the ones worn by her Italian ancestors were made of.

“Back in the day,” Piperno said, “women would sew incredible embroideries on their grooms’ tallitot, or they would pay someone else to do it.”

To her surprise, Piperno discovered that silk tallitot today reside mainly in some European Jewish museums and in private homes as a memento of the past. Due to the war, migrations, the changes in the local Jewish communities and the decline of silk production, which is costly and time-consuming, the tradition faded in the mid-1900’s. Today, most Jews wear wool or polyester-made tallitot.

Together with her younger sister Sofia, Dora decided to start her own production.