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21 minutes | Oct 20, 2020
Noa: The Beauty of Taking Up Space
On the season finale of Wholly Jewish season 2, we are joined by NYU student and college organizer Noa Baron (they/them)! Noa shares the personal and Jewish and significance of their name (and their Jewish name-changing ceremony), the importance of deep listening to the queer community, their aspirations as a trans Jewish leader, and the beauty LGBTQ+ Jews bring to the Jewish community. “I think I’ve been able to shed a real sense of fear…and in this, I’ve been more myself in all the ways that I can be,” Noa says. “I want to tell people like me that there is space for us…in Judaism and in the world and that someone like me who lives in this weird in-between space of gender has…the right to exist and the right to take up space.”
20 minutes | Oct 6, 2020
Denis: Coming Out and Showing Up
For LGBTQ+ Jews, coming out stories differ from person to person, and the story of Denis Victorovich Kurmanov (he/him) is no exception. This week, Denis shares his experience immigrating from Moldova at a young age, the pressure he faced to present as straight, how Judaism strengthened him to come out as gay and work as at organizer in his Jewish community, and even a few samples of his poetry. “It was a very slow process of [realizing that]…if God is love, then why should I not have it [too]?” Denis says. “It was a slow coming out. But…it was with full vengeance…and there was no going back. I'd done it all. I'm never going back here. I am!” (Recorded fall 2019)
25 minutes | Sep 15, 2020
Dara: From Parliament to the Bimah
Jewish innovation thrives on different perspectives, and it’s so vital that queer Jewish leaders be empowered to share their own. This week, Rabbi Dara Lithwick shares her experience wrestling both with God and coming out as a lesbian. She talks about her work with the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism and the Canadian Parliament, and embracing Torah through a lens of intersectionality. “When you bring different eyes and a different experience…to the study of Torah…it enables our tradition to stay alive and to stay relevant,” says Rabbi Lithwick. “[I bring] all of myself…as a queer woman, as a mom, as a lawyer, as a Canadian…into my read of Torah…And it's a really exciting time…to be a part of all of this.”
22 minutes | Sep 1, 2020
J: Breaking Down the Gates of Queer Judaism
Being queer and Jewish means something different to everyone, and those differences deserve to be celebrated. This week, J Collins (they/them) talks about being a Jewish storyteller and teacher; their connection, as a Jew-by-choice, to Rabbi Akiva’s teachings;, repairing the world in an oppressive political climate; and the dangers of “gatekeeping” in queer and Jewish spaces. “[I]n the transgender community, you're often hit with [the question] of, ‘Am I trans enough?,’…And I've been recognizing some of this in the Jewish community as well: ‘Am I Jewish enough?’” they explain. “[But] whether you call me Jewish or not doesn't matter. I am who I am, and you can't take that away from me.”
20 minutes | Aug 18, 2020
Laura: Creating Peace Out of Wholeness
With so much turmoil and uncertainty happening around us, finding wholeness – with oneself and one’s community – is especially important. This week’s guest, Cantor Laura Stein, shares her perspectives on how we can best care for those around us, the (lack of) tension between being Jewish and being a lesbian, and how her spiritual leadership inspires her social work at Mount Sinai Hospital's Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery. “I see…my work with the patients as trying to bring wholeness to their lives,” she says. “And for my patients in particular [to] look in the mirror and see who [they] are in a way that reflects who [they] truly are…spiritual pursuit is about [making] the world more whole. I really see that as beginning with these individuals.”
22 minutes | Aug 11, 2020
Max Antman: The Queerness and Politics of Torah
How can we embrace Judaism from not only a queer perspective, but also a “political” one? Max Antman (he/him), a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, discusses how being a gay man influences his reading of Torah, how his Reform synagogue empowered his gay identity, and the sacred relationship between activism and studying Jewish text. “Judaism is inherently very intertwined with politics,” he says. “[I want] to push the Jewish community forward and…rally behind these issues of equity, justice, diversity, inclusion…I want to be out and talking to people and integrating them into the Jewish community and pushing for progress in our world.”
25 minutes | Jul 21, 2020
Caroline: Forming a Sacred Queer Community
Being wholly Jewish means not having to hide parts of who we are when we enter Jewish spaces - including our queer identities. Caroline Dorn (she/her) discusses the importance of such a community; why Jewish congregations must hold intentional communities for marginalized folks; combining her improv skills with her “extracurricular Judaism"; and the importance of expanding our worldviews. "I think that the best resource that the Jewish community has is people," she says. "It's our relationships. It's our connection to one another. It's how we move through the world and the people that we hold close to us while we do it."
25 minutes | Jul 7, 2020
Leonard: Creating Seats at the Queer Jewish Table
Judaism is in a constant state of reform, and our approach to LGBTQ+ inclusivity should be, too. Leonard Slutsky (he/him), a Union for Reform Judaism lay leader and college admissions counselor, shares his experiences as a gay cisgender Jewish man; how Reform Jewish spaces affirmed his gay identity; how Judaism inspires his work as a suicide hotline volunteer; and how our communities can better serve queer Jews of all backgrounds. “I feel that it’s my role as someone who has a great deal of privilege, especially within the queer community,” he says, “to use it and help support those who don’t have as much as a voice.”
22 minutes | Jun 16, 2020
Mo: Standing in the Closet Doorway
Being queer means something different to everyone who identifies this way. Mo Selkirk (she/her), a queer Jewish mother, spouse, and activist, to name a few, discusses how her grandparents inspired her to embrace Judaism, what it means to be in a queer family, and how presenting as straight has been a blessing and a curse. “My [queer] invisibility is my personal superpower,” she says, “because people will say things to me [when] they don’t know who they’re talking to, and…I have the have the opportunity to educate them.”
4 minutes | Jun 12, 2020
The Secret to Eliana's Fabulous Hair
During Shira’s conversation with Eliana Rubin (check out our June 2nd episode, if you missed it), many topics came up – including Eliana’s beautiful, curly hair! In case you couldn’t get enough from episode one, check out this bonus episode all about how she creates those perfect curls.
21 minutes | Jun 9, 2020
Eliana: Gender Diversity is So Jewish
On the premiere episode of Wholly Jewish: Season 2, we hear from Eliana Rubin (she/her). Eliana (who went by Elias at the time of this episode’s recording) talks about when she first connected with her nonbinary transfemme identity and her desire to create more queer-inclusive classrooms. "I find that identifying as a Reform Jew and a queer person...are two parts of me that are so integral now to my core identity," she says.
3 minutes | May 27, 2020
B'ruchim Haba'im - Welcome Back to Wholly Jewish: Season 2!
Welcome to the first episode of Wholly Jewish: Season 2! Hosted by Jewish performance and ritual artist Shira Kline (she/her), a.k.a. ShirLaLa, this season features interviews with LGBTQIA+ Jews from the Union for Reform Judaism's JewV'Nation Fellowship. Follow along as they share their experiences in Jewish spaces, how their queerness and their Judaism intersect, and their visions of a more inclusive and equitable Jewish community.
25 minutes | Sep 17, 2019
Becky: Kimchi and Latkes
Fashionista and future rabbi Becky Jaye talks about navigating the world as an Asian Jew – in rabbinical school, in Israel, in the broader Jewish community, and in society at large. “I'm probably the most confident I've ever been in my identity as a Reform Jew,” she says.
24 minutes | Sep 3, 2019
Erika: Check Your Assumptions at the Door
Erica Riddick is a lifelong dancer, an avid learner, and a keen observer who talks about consistent curiosity, intent versus impact, how to have honest conversations, and more. “I like thinking about identity, like who I am and where I’m going in the world,” she says.
20 minutes | Aug 20, 2019
Destiny: Jews Like Us are Out Here
Meet Destiny Karash Givens, a multiracial Jewish teacher and scientist who’s proving that she can do just about anything – including raising the profile and visibility of Jews of Color. “People automatically have this assumption of the ‘why’ about my Judaism,” she says.
25 minutes | Aug 6, 2019
Robin: Driven by Curiosity and Joy
Robin Harrison contains multitudes: This Black, Jewish, Disney-loving father, husband, and son tells us about his childhood in Compton, his family’s Jewish studies, and the sense of wonder he cultivates in adulthood. “I want to make a difference for someone,” he says.
24 minutes | Jul 16, 2019
Amanda: Identities, Politics, and Spiritual A-Ha Moments
Amanda Ryan, a elected official in Nebraska, talks about what it means to her to identify with historically marginalized communities. "I'm pushing people to think outside of what is Jewish and or what is Latino."
24 minutes | Jul 2, 2019
Everlyn: Bring Your Whole Self to Everything
Everlyn Hunter, an honest, insightful West Coast psychologist, embraces her multi-faceted identity – Jewish, Black, multi-ethnic, a lesbian, and more. “All of who I am exists at all times and in every context.”
26 minutes | Jun 18, 2019
Tani: We Need Inclusive Jewish Spaces
Tani Prell Epstein, an artist, Jewish educator, and woman of Color, talks about what drew her to Judaism and how we can all embrace and move toward a fully inclusive Jewish world. “Judaism is the way that I think and love and learn,” she says.
18 minutes | Jun 4, 2019
Chris: The Blessing of Telling My Stories
ReformJudaism.org’s own Chris Harrison, a skilled writer and editor, talks about life as a Black Jew-by-Choice, a networker extraordinaire, and lover of all things Marvel and marvelous. “I always knew I had a calling to communicate, to write, and to be my own authentic self.”
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