Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community

Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community

by Noach Dzmura (Editor)


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***WINNER, 2011 Lambda Literary Award - Transgender Non-Fiction

While the Jewish mainstream still argues about homosexuality, transgender and gender-variant people have emerged as a distinct Jewish population and as a new chorus of voices. Inspired and nurtured by the successes of the feminist and LGBT movements in the Jewish world, Jews who identify with the “T” now sit in the congregation, marry under the chuppah, and create Jewish families. Balancing on the Mechitza offers a multifaceted portrait of this increasingly visible community.

The contributors—activists, theologians, scholars, and other transgender Jews—share for the first time in a printed volume their theoretical contemplations as well as rite-of-passage and other transformative stories. Balancing on the Mechitza introduces readers to a secular transwoman who interviews her Israeli and Palestinian peers and provides cutting-edge theory about the construction of Jewish personhood in Israel; a transman who serves as legal witness for a man (a role not typically open to persons designated female at birth) during a conversion ritual; a man deprived of testosterone by an illness who comes to identify himself with passion and pride as a Biblical eunuch; and a gender-variant person who explores how to adapt the masculine and feminine pronouns in Hebrew to reflect a non-binary gender reality.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556438134
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 06/01/2010
Series: Io Series , #66
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 295,304
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Noach Dzmura is an instructor at the Progressive Jewish Alliance. His writings have appeared in  Sh’ma, the Jewish Chronicle (UK), Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, and other publications. The recipient of the Haas-Koshland Award, he lives in Berkeley, CA.

Table of Contents

Foreword Rebecca Alpert xi

Introduction: The Literal and Metaphorical Mechitza Noach Dzmura xiii

Chapter 1 Gemilut Chasadim (Acts of Lovingkindness) 1


Abandonment to the Body's Desire Rachel Pollack 3

Hoowahyoo? Kate Bornstein 7

The Trayf Jew Chav Doherty 12

Transparent on High Jhos Singer 23

Lech Lecha! Eliron Hamburger 31

Crossing the Mechitza Beth Orens 43

Queering the Jew and Jewing the Queer Ri J. Turner 48

Spiritual Lessons I Have Learned from Transsexuals Margaret Moers Wenig 60

The God Thing Joy Ladin 68

Chapter 2 Avodah (Service) 83


Ritual for Gender Transition (Male to Female) Catherine Madsen Joy Ladin 85

Narrow Bridge Aaron Devor 93

Ya'amdu Ari Lev Fornari 98

Hearing beneath the Surface: Crossing Gender Boundaries at the Ari Mikveh Tucker Lieberman 102

Hatafat Dam Brit (Extracting a Drop of Blood) Martin Rawlings-Fein 108

Becoming a Good Boy: A Transmasculine Meditation on Gendered Ritual Objects and the Challenges of Transfeminism Max K. Strassfeld 112

Opshernish and self-portrait as pshat Tobaron Waxman 120

Remapping the Road from Sinai Judith Plaskow Elliot Kukla 134

Baruch Dayan Emet: Translating Death into Life Lynn Greenhough 141

Chapter 3 Torah (Teaching, Instruction, Law) 155


Intersexed Bodies in Mishnah: A Translation and an Activist's Reading of Mishnah Androgynos Noach Dzmura 163

Regulating the Human Body: Rabbinic Legal Discourse and the Making of Jewish Gender Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert 167

An Ancient Strategy for Managing Gender Ambiguity Noach Dzmura 170

Created by the Hand of Heaven: Making Space for Intersex People Reuben Zellman Elliot Kukla 182

Dismantling the Gender Binary within Judaism: The Challenge of Transgender to Compulsory Heterosexuality Judith Plaskow 187

Beyond the Binary Bubble: Addressing Transgender Issues in the Jewish Community Rachel Biale 211

Judaism and Gender Issues Beth Orens 224

Born to Be Wild: A Critique of Determinism Jane Rachel Litman 229

Transing God/dess: Notes from the Borderlands Julia Watts-Belser 235

Contributors 241

Permissions and Copyrights 249

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