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Judaism

At Yeshiva University, Students Prepare To March For LGBTQ Rights

At Yeshiva University, Students Prepare To March For LGBTQ Rights

Molly Meisels, a student at Yeshiva University, wanted to invite assemblymember Deborah Glick to talk about her experience as New York’s first openly gay legislator to the school’s College Democrats club. The university administration had other ideas.

Two weeks before the event took place, Meisels said she was called into an office and asked not to advertise the event in any way as LGBTQ-related and not to ask the assemblymember LGBTQ-related questions. “They told me that someone from higher up in the university was trying to stop the event from happening,” she said.

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.

Illuminating the Book of Esther

Illuminating the Book of Esther

For decades, scholars have written pages and pages attempting to solve the enigma of the so-called “Birds’ Head Haggadah,” an illustrated manuscript of the Passover Haggadah probably created in Germany in the early 14th century. Scholars have described the work as the earliest-known illuminated version of a Haggadah; its remaining 47 folios are preserved in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The mystery so many academics have been fascinated by lies in the way the characters are depicted around the text—with human bodies and sharp-beaked, bird-like heads.

A professor of Jewish studies at Vassar College in upstate New York, Marc Michael Epstein has introduced a series of provocative theories to the long-running academic conversation about this Haggadah. Now, after questioning the existing theories, claiming that those illustrated creatures are in fact griffins, and even challenging the academic community to rename the manuscript, he’s taking his research one step further. He’s creating a new illuminated manuscript, in the style of the Haggadah—but this time, it’ll be a Megillah.

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.