Posts Tagged ‘c’mon people let’s use some creative tags’

Trembling in the “Tribe”

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Okay, honestly this unit is so multifaceted it might take several blogposts to say all that I need to say, but I will start off with the obvious: reactions to the documentary.

I felt my heart twist at some particular moments, certainly. Israel’s tirade against the God of an Orthodoxy that would deny him happiness and full spiritual health and connection, for example, was one of the most powerful parts of the film, in my opinion. And conversely, when David, our Jewish Englander, asserted that it was such a nice “present” just to be Jewish in the first place, I felt my heartstrings tug painfully. Each of these men is gay and desires to be close to Jewish culture (Israel), if not participate fully in Orthodoxy (David). But they chose such different routes to struggle through their sexualities and religiosities, and I can’t help but wonder who is happier. I know it is probably a facile question, since their situations in life are so very different, but I just wonder which is the less painful set of circumstances, assuming they feel this way: being repeatedly kicked out of yeshivas for “gay activity” while making honest efforts to be a full participant in Orthodox life, or cutting all ties with family and religious life in order to fully live out one’s life with a loving partner.

Then again, once a part of the tribe, always a part, right? When Israel closed his eyes and began to sing a traditional religious song in Hebrew, he still remembered the words after years and years of being separated from the synagogue. This seems to support the notion that once one incorporates halakhah into his or her life, it never truly goes away—after all, Jews return to the same words repeatedly, since no word is redundant. There is always potential for other meanings that can be wrung from the texts by which they live their lives, or once did.

Reconstructionist Jew Judith Plaskow, a lesbian feminist, helps illustrate this process by deeming it “Godwrestling”: a means by which Jews, particularly women and even more particularly lesbian women, can reinterpret halakhah in an attempt to understand the text in a way that is less heteronormative and patriarchal, and more open, modern, and accepting.

Isn’t she cute?!

Of course, this is all very reductive and I’m probably butchering her argument, but in her book Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective, she states that halakhah can “replace God as the center of religious life or lead to God as its purpose and meaning. It can be a wall between the individual and the world or a way to apprehend the world more deeply” (70).

I could quote Plaskow all day, and there was literally a period of about two weeks when I ran around telling all my friends how she had changed my life and how I finally UNDERSTOOD the way I felt about God/deity/etc. But all my personal feelings aside, Plaskow makes a great point: the process of interpretation and, in that vein, reinterpretation is the key to success as a queer Jew. As Aviv and Schneer note, “homogenizing” queer Judaism is riddled with its own set of problems, but as Jews, they pride themselves on straining the word and picking it clean for all new revelations and insights…and they are neverending. This ceaseless process, this Godwrestling and careful combing of religious texts, is just exactly what may save this unique sect of Jewish society.

Also, speaking of gay Jews: I was SO thrilled to come across the last line of “America” by Allen Ginsberg in our reading today! Talk about a Jew who branched out: Ginsberg became really “into” Buddhism, drugs (particularly marijuana and hallucinogenics), and a life of wild and artistically-recorded homosexuality. Here he is, for your viewing and listening pleasure, reading “America,” the poem from which the line was drawn. Enjoy!

“America,” read by the man himself.

PS- side note: my boyfriend’s mother, who is both Catholic and Jewish, purportedly gave up matzah for Lent. I laughed sooooo hard!

Blog Anxiety…

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

I know this is just something I have to get over, but I am still not entirely comfortable with expressing my feelings about the readings on the blog. I feel like there is too much to say, and that I will bog people down by having to read my ramblings, or else I will abbreviate too much and then it won’t be insightful.

Any directional help from my fellow scholars? Regardless of whether anyone sees this post, there WILL be a blogpost regarding the reading and a separate one about Brigham Young come 8 A.M., but I’m just overthinking and stressing out in the meantime.

Yo, let’s talk about sex (or at least blog posts)

Monday, February 11th, 2013

C’mon, folks. This is your blog. This is your grade. This is your grade on the blog. [youtube][/youtube]

But seriously, many of you did not post a blog entry about the Great Lives lecture. If you don’t start posting, I may propose we change our class format to this:


It’s your choice.

Repost: Blog posts due this week

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Here’s the blog post I added on February 7th. It got lost in the blog entry shuffle, but you might want to take a look at the video.

Blog posts for this week’s reading are due tomorrow (February 8th) at 5 p.m., now that WordPress is back up and running. If you emailed or handed in a blog post, please go ahead and post it to the blog so everyone can see it.

Blog posts for this evening’s Great Lives talk are also due tomorrow at 5 p.m.

And just for something to think about….


I have an alias, and it’s all good!

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

I just want everyone to know, in case I wasn’t clear about it in class, that I am Sarah A. Foote.

Got that? Arrrbuckles=Sarah. Yay hooray, internet personalities!

Okay, back to homework now…

Beauty and the…Bestiality

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Just kidding! I will not actually be addressing bestiality much in this post at all, since that seems to be the theme most people have run with thus far, and I would like to add something a little different to the discussion. But I just really wanted to use that title, so there you have it!

What I actually wish to address for this week, however, is the ultimate “Catch-22” in Puritan Massachusetts (and, let’s be real, for much of history in many place globally): to be a woman. Oh, all right, we can nit-pick and excuse the “bawds” and official prostitutes from this category, although their lives were hard enough as it was. But for the most part, girls “were taught to please, to smile and fetch and carry, to stand on the table and sing” (95).

From this description, it seems as though females were regarded kind of like useful dogs: able to be of service to men when necessary, and be pleasant while doing so, and that they were indeed considered property, and therefore less than autonomous. The rules should have been clear if they [females in the community] were actually considered in this reductive of a manner, and there would be no question of whether one were committing a moral sin if she were only to behave in a way that is like that of a servant, pet, or child, and nothing more.

But of course, things are not that easy; on the contrary, the following paragraph struck me as confounding at best, downright befuddling (and harboring great punishment as a result) at worst:

“…A respectable woman did not undress before her male servants, nor did she lie under the covers with a man not her husband, but she might sleep in the same room as either. She did not sing or drink with strangers in the tavern, though out of hospitality she would certainly smoke at her own hearth or doorstep with any of her husband’s friends. She did not sit on her neighbor’s lap or kiss him in the barn, but with good conscience she could share his horse” (95).

As in our current age, the role of females here is a complex one– if a woman is capable of sharing a man’s horse, but culpable of adultery if she hugs him from behind in any other circumstances, where is it appropriate to draw the line?

I will probably do a follow-up blog post after tomorrow’s class, because there is a lot more that needs to be said regarding this topic, but I want to hear other people’s reactions first before I proceed any further with my tirades!