Date: June 5th
Time: 9am-10pm EDT (6am-7pm PDT)
We are excited to dedicate our 2022 Tikkun Leil Shavuot to amplifying Queer voices and honoring the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community, in honor of Pride Month!
Together, we all stood at the base of Sinai.
This Shavuot, we will (virtually) stand together and learn from one another.
10am ET (7am PT)
Stacey Van Keuren
Ketubot v’Gitten: Why Not Both
Same-sex marriages; relationships when one party comes out as transgender after the wedding; and agunot have some similarities in halacha. What if in all pre-nuptial agreements, ketubot were written for both parties with a phrase that if one get is to be written, that the linked get will also be written? A tumtum has proposed that if two ketubot are written and then two gittin are exchanged for each Jewish marriage and corresponding divorce, there would be one less argument about the Jewish legality of same-sex, intersex, transgender, and any other outside-the-norm marriages, as well as making it far more difficult to chain anyone in an unwanted marriage. This would lead to one less obstacle for Jewish same-sex marriages. Transgender and intersex Jews would have the same ability to contract a Jewish marriage as cishet Jews. Neither party can be chained if either party can begin the process of having a get written. Content: There will be no debate on permitting marriages for everyone, but instead discussion of how to phrase this concept for the scribes writing ketubot and gittin to grant marriage equality for everyone.
11 am ET (8am PT)
Ellen M. Levy
Lesbian Jews in Post-Victorian Boston
What was it like to be a Jewish lesbian in Post-Victorian Boston? Explore Boston from 1910 to 1920 and learn how young lesbians found each other during a time before the internet, gay bars, or even books about queer women. Explore Boston Marriage, Wellesley Marriages, and discrimination faced for being Jewish and for being lesbians. Learn about lesbians in the military and in the suffrage movement.
Ellen Levy will share the extensive research she conducted while writing four books of historical fiction, following the love affair of Deborah and Miriam, a young Jewish lesbian couple. They learn to deal with discrimination from their family, their Jewish community, and others unfamiliar with the lifestyle of this brave couple. Photographs, videos, lively discussions, and exercises bring participants into this era.
12pm ET (9am PT)
Rabbi Deb Smith
Tales of the Torah: Bogus or Believable?
Scholars disagree about whether the events of the Bible are historically true or not. We will never have true proof of the existence of the specific persons and events in the Bible; but this is also true of other historical personalities and events of the ancient past. However, for many the Bible is an essential guide to how to live life. Some say that the narratives of the Bible are made up texts, written later in history for political motives while others claim that the stories are partly based on oral traditions from a particular time period. Still others say that while there is no evidence for the biblical personalities, they are believable figures in history. Through reading and discussion of a variety of brief texts, we will explore these positions and see where we each stand with regard to the Bible: Bogus or Believable?
1pm ET (10 am PT)
Rabbi Irwin Keller
Joseph’s story stands out as one of Torah’s queerest narratives. Torah notices Joseph’s beauty, outsiderness, and vulnerability. Torah also points to something unusual in Joseph’s gender, body, and social role, using references to Joseph’s womb and knees that are only otherwise used for women. We will look at text and commentary, and explore the surprising fullness of this archetypal trancestor.
2pm ET (11am PT)
Matriarch Magic - Ruth and Naomi
Engage spiritually with Ruth and Naomi in this art exploration workshop. We will study ancient and modern Feminist midrash and use the Jewish Studio Process* to engage our innate creativity and divinity. No art experience is required – your inherent creativity is already there. Join us as we co-create with our sacred stories. We will also discuss Elan’s project, Matriarch Magic.
*The Jewish Studio Process is a unique methodology developed by Rabbi Adina Allen that melts the Beit Midrash (house of learning) and the art studio and uplifts art making as a path toward understanding
3pm ET (12pm PT)
Rabbi Becky Silverstein
Revelation and Living our Lives
– Connecting the Dots
On Shavuot we celebrate the giving of Torah, a moment of tremendous communal power which provides a communal origin story and the foundation for what it means to live as a Jew. One midrash teaches that an angel approached each person at the base of the mountain and asked if they accepted the covenant; another that each person received Torah according to their strength. What does it mean to accept the covenant in today’s world? Do we/you feel commanded or obligated towards the mitzvot? What is the source of those feelings? How might our various identities affect the stories we tell about these ideas? And how is all of this connected to how we live our lives? Join us for rich discussion, personal reflection, and text learning.
4pm ET (1pm PT)
Elly Malka Faden
8 Forms of Love in the Tree of Life
We know about Chesed and Ahava, but did you know that there are eight forms of love in the Tree of Life? Some of these are clear in other traditions, such as Hindu and Greek. Where do we find our forms of love in Renewal, and how do we tap into them to become more spiritually enlightened?
5pm ET (2pm PT)
Kohenet Rachel Kann
Joseph and Dinah are Divine
Joseph captivated and/or drove everyone who came across him completely wild, whether it was through his fabulous coat, his astounding beauty that seemed to make people across the gender spectrum weak in the knees, or his self-confidence in his own visionary dream interpretation. Did people mostly hate him just for being himself?
What gender was Dinah, in actuality, both inside and outside the womb?
What does Midrash have to teach us beyond the binary in the world?
What does Kabbalah have to teach us beyond the binary within ourselves?
Where do we see biblical gender expression in the world of drag today?
Let’s have a lively discussion about all these topics and more, using text-based examples from our own tradition.
6pm ET (3pm PT)
What is the Gender of God?
Living in a Catholic community, Natalie Tasca has always asked the question why do we call God a He rather than a she? How do we know what the gender of God is? We always refer to God as a he, but what if God was a she?
7pm ET (4pm PT)
Still Small Voices
What words might have been expressed in still, small voices that escaped transcription into Torah? Familiar characters from the Torah can offer unique perspectives, which may be channeled via the creative process for songwriters. Lealiza Lee will share the perspectives she gained on well-known Torah characters while immersing herself in this process.
Songwriting presents us with the opportunity to sing acapella, where the lyrics stand alone. Acapella singing respects the tradition of many during the days leading up to Shavuot to avoid listening to instrumental music. This way of singing also allows for clear expression of lyrics so that they may be fully taken in by listeners. Singing without instruments allows pacing that creates room for an important musical component called silence.
Discover how absolutely any song you love can become a vehicle for personal meditation, healing, and joy. The songs of others can help us hear our own still small voices.
This program is suitable for relaxed, meditative listening that allows participants to experience mental pictures, emotions, memories, or body sensations associated with the stories she sings. Participants may feel inspired to tone along.
8pm ET (5pm PT)
Olivia Devorah Tucker
The Jewish Monster Manual
Let’s re-mystify Judaism by learning about our magical menagerie! Meet the larger-than-life Leviathan, the smaller-than-small Shamir, and watch out for the dreaded Agrat bat Makhlat, the Demon Queen of Tuesdays!
What can our legendary creatures teach us about ancestral imagination? How can we see and utilize these fantasies in our lives?
9pm ET (6pm PT)
They/Them or Ze/Hir
Jewish Trans Ancestors and Their Kabbalistic Overtones
The first family of Judaism – started by Abraham and Sarah – has subtextual queerness running through the entire line. From Sarah’s and Abraham’s once indeterminate gender/sex; to Yaacov’s masculine playacting; Rivka’s unabashed physical strength and slippery boy/girlhood; to Yoseph’s gender bending, our family is a queered one.
These same ancestors are mapped onto various cosmic aspects of the divine self. What do our queer ancestors bring to the aspects of haShem? How can we recognize both the historical and the mystical queerness / trans-ness of Torah’s Jews? Are we writing ourselves in or uncovering what’s there? Why not Both?
Let’s review some textual basises for the trans-ness of these Ivrit—the crosser-overs—and discuss the mystical resonances that come when we finally see Jewish Queerness and Queerness as Divine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is this taking place?
This event is entirely virtual! You can participate from anywhere in the world. You can even be in your pajamas (we won’t tell!)
Do I need an internet connection to participate?
An internet or phone connection is required to be able to participate. We encourage having some sort of camera so that your face can be seen, but a phone will work just fine if needed.
What if I have never done video conferencing before?
That’s okay! After you register, you will be given detailed instructions on how to get set up so that you will be able to fully participate in as many sessions as you wish.
How long is each session?
Each class is 1 hour long, so you can attend all of them if your want!