Amid attacks on trans people, a queer yeshiva offers a path to liberation

by | Apr 12, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — The prospect of studying Talmud for a week seemed intimidating to Noah Rubin-Blose, who grew up culturally Jewish and wasn’t too familiar with the Hebrew letters, much less the central texts of rabbinic Judaism.But the opportunity to spend time with queer Jews was just too tempting. So Rubin-Blose, a trans man, signed up for Queer Talmud Camp a few years ago. 
“It felt like coming home,” he said of the experience, a one-week immersive offered by Svara, a 20-year-old yeshiva for queer and trans people. “To be in a room with 80-100 queer Jews studying and singing was really meaningful.”
He was hooked.
Rubin-Blose returned to the adult camp the following year and the year after that, too. He signed up for additional Svara classes after the camp went on hiatus during COVID. He became a “fairy,” a term Svara uses for a teacher assistant, and later a fellow at the yeshiva.
Now the Durham, North Carolina, resident is studying for rabbinic ordination at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College outside Philadelphia.
Noah Rubin-Blose is a fellow at Svara, a queer yeshiva, and is also studying to be a rabbi at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he poses by a “Trans Lives Are Sacred” mural. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron
Queer and trans Jews are reshaping the contours of American Judaism, and Svara, an online-only learning forum, is leading the way. The yeshiva, founded by lesbian Rabbi Benay Lappe, doesn’t offer degrees or ordination. But it does of …

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