Teaching

Here I post descriptions of the various classes I have taught and am available to teach, and the mekorot (source sheets) for them.

A Mikveh Ritual for Transitioning Gender

I wrote this ceremony involving immersion in the mikveh, a traditional Jewish ritual bath, when I first began my transition. I performed this ritual: once at the start, and again after one year had passed. An poem about my experience performing this ritual appears in my book, Ein Self.

Download the ceremony here. This ritual was presented and discussed at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference in 2013 and 2014.

Birkat Ha-ma’avirah — Blessing for transitioning gender

This blessing, which I incorporated into the mikveh ceremony above, is one that I wrote based on my friend and teacher Rabbi Elliot Kukla’s ritual and elaborated greatly thereon. I wrote it when I realized I had no berachah—benediction—to say over taking my hormones every day, and wondered what kind of marker of the sacredness of that moment would be appropriate.

Download the Blessing for Transitioning Gender

Verbal Aggression, Verbal Oppression

Judaism expanded the Torah’s instruction not to embarrass one’s fellow human being—lo tonu ish et amito (Lev. 25:17)—into much broader topics of justice responding to oppression. In this class we examine some of the development of these topics in Jewish texts from the Torah through the Rabbinic age and into present times, and think about how “right speech” is applicable in a Jewish context to broader issues of community well-being and social justice.

Download the source sheet (PDF). This class was originally taught 31 May 2013 at Havurat Shalom.

Covenant and Consent

A famous midrash on the revelation of the Torah at Mount Sinai tells how God lifted the mountain over the heads of the Israelites and essentially threatened them with death unless they accepted the Torah. Troublingly, the mountain is also described as a wedding canopy and the Torah as the marriage contract between God and the Israelites. In this class we explore the texts that lead to these seemingly contradictory points of view, and we discuss what this problematic relationship means from the point of view of sexual ethics and consent.

Download the source sheet (PDF). This class was originally taught Shavuot 5773 (15 May 2013) at Havurat Shalom.