Noach Dzmura editor of the anthology, Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community has said, “no matter where you fall on the spectrum of Jewish observance, and no matter where you fall on the spectrum of gender identity, there is a home for you in the Jewish community.” This message of finding a home for Gender Variant and Trans identified people is clearly one of the overarching messages that made Noach’s anthology a Lambda Literary Award winner in the category of Transgender Non-Fiction this last week.
“The Lammys” or The Lambda Literary Awards, have been awarding published works which celebrate or explore LGBT themes since 1988. Although this is far from the first time a Jewish author or Jewish subject received a Lammy, this is the first time that an anthology devoted entirely to the encounter between Jewish life and practice, and transgender bodies has been awarded. Based on my experience working with Noach over the past few years, this book is the summary of his investment towards ensuring that transgender inclusion is an increasingly understood reality throughout the organized Jewish community.
A natural thought leader, Noach is a local Educator and Activist who holds a Masters Degree in both Instructional Design and Jewish Studies. Together with Rachel Biale, Rebecca Weiner, Karen Earlichman, myself and Ruby Cymrot-Wu as part of our professional Bay Area LGBT Jewish collective, Kol Tzedek, he co-author a Transgender Inclusion Report that led to the creation of the Transgender Task Force at the Jewish Community Federation. Noach started the East Bay Transgender Chevra, has written for the Forward, Sh’ma, the UK’s Jewish Chronicle, Tikkun and Zeek. Through all of his varied local community experiences started the site, Jewish Transitions to help further convey the messages also found in the anthology.
Many of the writers in his anthology like Kate Bornstein, Rabbi Elliot Kukla, Rabbi Reuben Zellman, Charlotte Fonrobert, Maggid Jhos Singer, Eliron Hamburger and Chav Doherty are also active change-makers and thought-leaders with strong roots in our local Jewish community. Yasher Koach, to the leaders and writers from across North America that provided their powerful pieces to the anthology and continue to help navigate the path of transforming our collective understanding of the full spectrum of Jewish lives.
Noach Dzmura and many of the contributing essayists are available to speak with your organization, synagogue, chevra kadisha, ritual committee, or book club in a range of formats. Please connect with Noach at Jewish Transitions to learn more about how to have these important topics brought to your community.