Friday, December 17, 2010

10th of Tevet

Last night I chanted the kaddish prayer for the dead, standing at the
intersection of Ocean Parkway and 18th Avneue in Brooklyn. A few dozen
of us huddled together, queer and not, Jewish and not, at the Queer
Rising rally aimed at stopping hatred towards LGBT members of the
Jewish community. The area where we had been marching and were now
chanting is where many of the Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox rabbis who
regularly rail against the abomination of the queer lifestyle are
living and preaching. But we didn't come to protest. We came to pray.
I was holding a memorial candle, lit tonight as it is done every year
in my Orthodox family's home on this Jewish date, The Tenth of Tevet.
honoring the memory of those who died in the Holocaust for whom there
is no grave or date of death. There are millions such victims of
racism and hate, my Grandmother among them.  These victims are unburied but not
forgotten. I said the kaddish for her tonight on Ocean Parkway,
lit the candle with her memory in mind, but stood there in Brooklyn
moored in the here and now: proud and loud, cold but warm with the
knowledge that here we are, a bunch of crazy, freezing people saying
yes to the deepest values of human dignity and worth, saying no to
hate, yes to trust, lighting up the night with flickers of stubborn
hope that more of us will walk the big talk and make it matter more
in the name of all of who ever suffered indignation and hate: never,
never again.

Bravo to Jake Goodman of Queer Rising for making tonight happen. Proud
and loud, over and out. Memories turned into blessing.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 10th of Tevet: A Different Meaning ("In God's Name" on December 16th)

Click here to view a short video from Storahtelling Founder and Executive Director Amichai Lau-Lavie explains the significance of The 10th of Tevet / National Remembrance Day and offers a passionate call to action for everybody to join Queer Rising on tomorrow, December 16th for "In God's Name," to condemn anti-LGBT rhetoric that is spoken "in God's name," by fringe Jewish leaders.

For more info, visit Queer Rising's website.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Vayishlach Maven in Louisville, KY

By Jonathan Bubis

I have to say, the gig Deanna Neil and I had in Kentucky just kept on shinin’. At Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Louisville, Dee and I did a Setting the Stage/Workshop on Friday night, and a Maven on Saturday morning. On Friday we had about forty people, half of whom were from a church and had never been to a synagogue before! It seemed that the particpants were highly engaged as many of the churchgoers returned the next day to see the Maven in action. One highlight for everyone during the Maven, especially the kids, was the part where Jacob wrestled the angel. Dee and I decided to choreograph a live-action “fight” scene, interspersed with abstract, slow motion representations of Jacob’s past that come to haunt him while he is wrestling. This struggle reflected the subsequent stretch, which was all about whether or not people have the ability to change. Can we change our actions and personality? Or do our inherent natures and past experiences always creep back up on us?

This theme of confronting our past couldn’t have been more fitting for me at that moment. My whole family had just started watching family videos that had recently been converted to DVDs. In addition to providing a LOT of laughs, they were also profoundly enlightening about who my cousins and I were as children. I realized that I am still very much the same person. In some ways that is comforting, but in others it’s kind of troubling. Can I ever shake the quirks and shortcomings I’ve had since I was a kid? In the end, I found solace in the story of Jacob, who, once ashamed of his past, was able to make the changes he wanted to see for himself, and cultivate his new identity as a wrestler of God.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Judah the Maccabee’s Menorah
“Three Times the Judy”

By Isadore “Alex/Judy the Maccabee” Wolfson

“Light the Night Tonight!” This is the sound that echoed through the halls of the JCC Manhattan, the 14th Street Y, and the Bergen County Solomon Schecter over the weekend. Naamah Harris and I decided that the best way to relay our message to the children of the tri-state area was to do three back-to-back shows, complete with Judy the Maccabee’s big blue head at the helm. The theme of our show was light vs. dark, with a lovely “working together” bullseye.

We downplayed the part of the Channukah story that included war and conflict to make room for a healthy dose of “lighting the night tonight.” Judy the Maccabee, Judah’s sister helped to teach around 400 parents and kids this weekend embrace the idea of fighting the darkness with light. A big part of the story we told involved a brother and a sister fighting and separating themselves from one another, and thus, separating the candles from the menorah. Through the story, we helped the kids embrace the idea of working together both because a brother and a sister SHOULD but also because the menorah and the candles “work together.” In order to find the light and fight the dark, we need to put the candles INSIDE the menorah.

The thing that I love most about these StorahSteps shows is that we really have fun while (usually) very cleverly inserting lessons about Torah, Judaism, and most importantly, LIFE. The kids at all three shows really seemed to connect to the story and to Judy. We really have such an opportunity with this age group to incorporate Jewish ideals into their everyday lives.
All in all, Naamah and I had a great time with the show and with all three audiences. And remember, when you’re lighting your menorahs for these last days of Channukah, let the light shine brightly. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Missed your chance to see Judy at the crew this past weekend? Light up the night post-Chanukah at 11AM at the Kings Bay Y, 3495 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11229. Click here for more information.