This past week was a good one. President Obama finally came out in support of same-sex marriage. In contrast, homophobia still holds sway in the worlds of Orthodox Judaism, even within the enlightened academic stronghold of modern Orthodoxy — Yeshiva University (YU) and its women’s undergraduate school, Stern College, both in Manhattan.
Two days before Obama made his announcement, a crowd of more than 100 piled into the offices of JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance) for the book tour of the anthology Keep Your Wives Away from Them – Orthodox Women Unorthodox Desires. The event was sponsored with Eshel, an organization working to build support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews in traditional Jewish communities.
You’ve got to love a book whose cover looks like a photo from yesteryear of a sweet looking dyke in drag, straight out of the shtetl. The book’s essays speak personally and halachically (according to Jewish law) of lesbian, bi and transgender sexuality within Orthodox Judaism. The book tour’s goal is to connect traditionally Jewish and Orthodox lesbian, bi, trans and queer people to each other and to raise awareness in the Jewish community about being LGBTQ and Orthodox.