For Us, By Us: The Trans Halakhah Project

Episode 47 · November 30th, 2023 · 51 mins 5 secs

About this Episode

Halakhah is for Orthodox Jews. It means Jewish law: what you can do and can’t do. Right? Not according to Laynie Soloman, a passionate teacher of Jewish text and thought at SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yehshiva. Soloman says that Halakhah isn’t law, per se, since law – especially when it comes to queer and trans folks – can serve as an instrument of oppression. Rather, Soloman speaks of Halakhah as “Jewish practice and its surrounding discourse,” i.e. what Jews do. Soloman discusses SVARA’s Trans Halakhah Project, which seeks to empower trans Jews. Soloman talks with hosts Bryan Schwartzman about what the project means in a political climate hostile to trans people. “Celebrating our transness is a political act.” Recorded early in the Israel-Hamas War, Soloman describes how they have turned to ancient rabbinic sources to understand how Jews have dealt with catastrophe and violence in the past.

Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby:

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