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trans remembrance shabbat

Since 1999, November 20th has been set aside in cities across the country as Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day memorializes those who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred. High rates of murder and other violence continues to be one of the most critical issues facing our transgender communities; and more and more people, trans and non-trans, are raising their voices in commemoration and protest.

Since 1999, November 20th has been set aside in cities across the country as Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day memorializes those who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred. High rates of murder and other violence continues to be one of the most critical issues facing our transgender communities; and more and more people, trans and non-trans, are raising their voices in commemoration and protest.

This Friday evening marks the sixth year that San Francisco’s progressive reform Congregation Sha’ar Zahav has stepped into the role of Jewish community caretaker for the annual sacred event of transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).

More and more people, trans and non-trans, are raising their voices in commemoration each year.

This particular evening, open to the greater community – both Jews and our Jewish allies, will be focused on remembering all who have suffered from anti-transgender violence.

The service beginning at 7:30pm led by Rabbi Camille Angel and Martin Rawlings-Fein will be focused in part on the holy act of remembering.

Together as a community we will read the names of those that have been murdered this year due to anti-transgender violence. As well as all of the unknown whom no one really knew the following names will be included:

♥ Idania Roberta Sevilla Raudales z”l, ♥ Luisa Alvarado Hernández z”l, ♥ Lady Óscar Martínez Salgado z”l, ♥ Reana ‘Cheo’ Bustamente z”l, ♥ Génesis Briget Makaligton z”l, ♥ Krissy Bates z”l, ♥ Fergie Alice Ferg z”l, ♥ Jessica Rollon z”l, ♥ Tyra Trent z”l, ♥ Priscila Brandão z”l, ♥ Marcal Camero Tye z”l, ♥ Shakira Harahap z”l, ♥ Miss Nate Nate (or Née) Eugene Davis z”l, ♥ Lashai Mclean z”l, ♥ Didem z”l, ♥ Camila Guzman z”l, ♥ Gaby z”l, ♥ Gaurav Gopalan z”l, ♥ Shelley Hilliard z”l

May each of these names be for a blessing. 

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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in Jewish Bay Area

 

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This is a gender neutral restroom.

We speak about removing barriers for people often at my work in the organized Jewish community. These barriers we speak about can often mean finances but they can easily be much simpler and much more tangible. These barriers can be a physical or mental block that keeps someone in the margins not able to get access to what our Jewish community has to offer.

Here is a barrier that we don’t speak about a lot in the organized Jewish community: restrooms. Many people have no safe places to go to the bathroom. It is true! Ever wonder about the gender of that long-haired person in the men’s room or that short-haired person in the woman’s room? Imagine the looks that they get each time they simply have to go to the bathroom because their gender presentation does not fit the mold of other people around them. Many people avoid public bathrooms altogether because these looks can quickly turn into harassment.

This is the gender neutral restroom sign we posted this past week at the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

A copy of the sign that you can see in this blog is now hanging on our third floor outside of a restroom that was once reserved solely for use by men. A few years ago we put up a sign that simply said “gender neutral” but guests in our building kept referring to it as the “transgender bathroom.” This awkward phrasing that was being used started to create an even more isolating experience for both guests and employees. So together with two of my colleagues we were able to craft this updated sign.

I don’t always know how to honor each one of our community’s micro successes in the LGBT inclusion work that I do. We do not even know yet if this new sign can be seen as a success. I simply hope that this sign and story can present an opportunity to shape the way we can see things differently as a community.

I am aware that we need to share these moments of change to help other communities take similar steps towards greater inclusion. So if you have a suggestion on a success that you have experienced, please share it!

If you are looking for more gender neutral bathroom resources take a look here:

  • Safe2pee – a collective of like-minded activists offering resources to find safe places to use the bathroom and activism to promote gender free public restrooms
  • Toilet Training – a documentary video and collaboration between transgender videomaker Tara Mateik and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Using the stories of people who have been harassed, arrested or beaten for trying to use bathrooms, Toilet Training focuses on bathroom access in public space, in schools, and at work.
  • Toilet Training Toolkit – a companion toolkit full of useful facts and talking points about trans equality and bathroom access
  • Peeing in Peace – a resource guide created by the Transgender Law Center combining basic information about how someone can protect themselves with common sense steps that can be taken to change the way in which an employer, school administrator, business owner, or government official handles bathroom access issues
  • West Coast LGBT Training Institute for the Jewish Community – The purpose of the training is to make sure that LGBT youth, families, and staff are safe and affirmed in all Jewish educational and community settings. Participants will be trained and given the tools and guidance to replicate the trainings in their own communities.
 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Jewish Bay Area, LGBT Alliance

 

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LGBT Book Readings at the Jewish Community Library

Keep Your Wives Away from Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires, A presentation by Miryam Kabakov will be held on Thursday, November 17 at 7pm.

Reconciling queerness with religion has always been an enormous challenge. When the religion is Orthodox Judaism, the task is even more daunting. The anthology Keep Your Wives Away from Them, edited by Miryam Kabakov, takes on that challenge by giving voice to lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jewish women who were once silenced—and effectively rendered invisible—by their faith. It tells the story of those who have come out, who are still closeted, living double lives, or struggling to maintain an integrated "single life" in relationship to traditional Judaism.

On Tuesday, December 13 at 7pm join Noach Dzmura, editor of Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community along with contributors Chav Doherty, Martin Rawlings-Fein, Jhos Singer, and Max Strassfeld in conversation.

How can transgender people live pious Jewish lives when many of their significant life choices might be considered “un-kosher”? How might parenting be complicated, or perhaps, enhanced, when one parent has changed sex? How does it feel to be in “men only” ritual space when you were once defined by your community as female? Balancing on the Mechitza is an anthology by activists, theologians, and scholars, both transgender and non-transgender allies, who share their interpretation of Jewish texts about ambiguous bodies, as well as their sacred and secular stories

                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                               Both readings are free and open to the public at the San Francisco Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) Jewish Community Library. The library is located at 1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, 94115, between Scott and Pierce on the campus of the Jewish Community High School. There is free garage parking at the entrance on Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy. For more information contact Allison at (415) 567-3327, ext 703 or ajgreen@bjesf.org.

 

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Frameline Opens Tonight with a host of LGBT Queer Jewish filmmakers to support!

How does this happen? Each year Frameline jumps into the middle of the best month of the year with some of the hotest and most incredible films and on the day of the opening night I am hustling to buy tickets before everything sells out.  As I need to be organized about which films to see, I created a list. Some of the films I am opting to see this year are made by Jewish LGBT local leaders and friends and some of the films I am opting to see are simply themed around the complexity of queer Jewish identities.

So if you are like me and you want to attend at least a few of the 200+ films at the the oldest and largest GLBT Film Festival in the world, we need to get on it and purchase our tickets today. So, just in case you want a cheat sheet to Frameline, here is mine…

Films based in Jewish Identity

Films Directed and/or Produced by local LGBT Jewish leaders
  • Celebrating the Life of Del Martin – San Francisco, 2011, 57 Min. Directed by Debra Chasnoff. Shown on Friday, June 17, 11:30 AM at the Castro Theatre.   
  • Blink – San Francisco, 2010, 8 Min. directed by Yoni Klein and Alka Joshi. Shown on Tuesday, June 21, 1:30 PM at the Castro Theatre within The Grove.
  • The Grove – San Francisco, 2011 62 Min. Directed and Produced by Andy Abrahams Wilson. Shown on Tuesday, June 21, 1:30 PM at the Castro Theatre 
  • Still Around –San Francisco, 2011, 85 Min. a feature length compilation of 15 short films produced by Marc Smolowitz. Shown on Friday, June 24, 1:15 PM at the Castro Theatre.
  • Gillian– San Francisco, 2010, 11 Min. Directed by Martin Rawlings-Fein. Shown on Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic!
  • Spiral Transition – San Francisco, 2010, 6 min. Directed by Ewan Duarte. Shown on Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic!
  • Genderbusters – San Francisco, 2010, 6 min. Directed by Sam Berliner. Shown twice! Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic! and Friday, June 24, 4:00 PM at the Castro Theatre within Dyke Delights.
  • Perception – San Francisco, 2010, 2 min. Directed by Sam Berliner. Shown on Thursday, June 23, 11:00 AM at the Castro Theatre within Queertoons.
  • We Who Are Sexy: The Whirlwind History of Transgender Images in Cinema – Live on-stage conversation and film clip presentation, 90 min. with film historians Jenni Olson and Susan Stryker on Sunday, June 19, 2:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre.
Debra Chasnoff

There's just one day left before the World Premiere of Debra Chasnoff’s latest film, Celebrating the Life of Del Martin on Friday, June 17 at 11:30am at the Castro Theater.

Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the first reported AIDS cases, local filmmaker Andy Abrahams Wilson will be screening his new work, The Grove. His film which gives a history on the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park shown at Frameline on June 21 at 1:30pm at the Castro Theater.

Israeli filmmaker Tomer Heymann will be speaking after showing his film The Queen Has No Crown on Saturday evening, June 18 at the Roxie Theater 6:30pm.

Marc Smolowitz is one of the local filmmakers who produced Still Around - a feature length compilation of 15 short films shown on Friday, June 24, 1:15 PM at the Castro Theatre.

Marc Smolowitz is one of the local filmmakers who produced Still Around. This feature length compilation of 15 short films will be shown on Friday, June 24, 1:15 PM at the Castro Theatre.

Martin Rawlings-Fein is another local filmmaker who will show a film at Frameline this year. His short film, Gillian will be shown on Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic!

Martin Rawlings-Fein is another local filmmaker who will show a film at Frameline this year. His short film, Gillian will be shown on Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM at the Victoria Theatre within Transtastic!

Yoni Klein and Alka Joshi

Local filmmakers Yoni Klein and Alka Joshi created Blink an 8 minute short that will be shown on Tuesday, June 21, 1:30 PM at the Castro Theatre within The Grove.

 

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Lambda Literary Awards Jewish Transgender Anthology

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.Noach Dzmura

“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.

 

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Dana International of Israel helps out Eurovision

Thirteen years after winning the Eurovision Song Contest with Diva in 1998 Dana International was back again representing Israel with her self composed entry Ding Dong as she attempted to win the title again. Dana’s victory in the 1998 contest had a strong impression on the world, and she became a cultural icon. In Israel (which has participated in Eurovision almost every year since 1973), on the night of the 1998 victory, thousands of people celebrated on the streets, and Dana has been a star ever since.

When I travel or speak with Israeli people and describe what I do for a living her name will come up within three minutes. It is like clock-work. I say something about Trans rights in English. The person I am speaking with asks what that means. Someone who is also Israeli and standing near us or involved in the conversation interjects and simply says, “Dana, you know Dana International.”   Dana International has become synonymous with not only the rights of Trans people but the full LGBT spectrum of identities. It is amazing.

Although she was sadly voted out of Eurovison Thursday night the history of this extraordinary woman has helped change the understanding of LGBT civil rights not only in Israel but also across the globe. Take a look at this BBC video talking about her impact on our world:

Dana International of Israel performs her song 'Ding Dong' during a rehearsal for the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf May 11, 2011. Photograph by: Ina Fassbender, REUTERS

Dana International of Israel performs her song 'Ding Dong' during a rehearsal for the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf May 11, 2011. Photograph by: Ina Fassbender, REUTERS

I hope that you will be able to join me at our Federations’ LGBT Alliance booth celebrating Dana International and her contributions to our global community at Israel in the Gardens this June 5 in San Francisco.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2011 in Israel

 

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Northern California Jewish Holocaust Commemoration to Remember Gay Survivors of World War II

Un amour à taire

One of the rare films that depict homosexual deportation during World War II is 2005 Un amour à taire (A Love to Hide). The film is loosely based on the Pierre Seel story.

I know of no where else that this is happening. No where. I would love to be told differently. So, if you – a random reader – know where else within the realm of a non-LGBT-specific-Jewish synagogues annually led Holocaust commemoration is electing to discuss the Nazi persecution of the many people understood or identified as gay and lesbian: please share!

To remember the Holocaust and its lessons for society including the Nazi persecution of those understood to be gay or lesbian identified my colleague and organizer at the Jewish Community Federation & Foundation of the Greater East Bay Riva Gambert (riva@jfed.org) has organized a free one hour-long Yom HaShoa commemoration at 5pm on May 1 at a mainstream Suburban Reform Temple.

Paragraph 175 includes the story of Pierre Seel

Paragraph 175 includes the story of Pierre Seel

Underwritten by the Tillie and Rene Molho Fund for Holocaust Remembrance at Temple Isaiah (3800 Mt. Diablo Boulevard Lafayette, CA) this program will present the story of one French gay survivor, Pierre Seel z”l told via a performance by Nick Lane, Kevin Copps and directed by Andrew Nance. Pierre Seel who passed away at the age of 82 in 2005 was arrested for homosexuality at 17 by the Gestapo in 1941 after German forces overran France.

The lives and experiences of homosexuals during World War II is rarely covered by the media, the organized Jewish community and the global arts community. It is our collective responsibility to retell these stories so they do not happen again.

The cover of Pierre Seel's 1994 published in French biography titled, Moi, Pierre Seel, déporté homosexuel. Written in collaboration with Jean Le Bitoux by Calmann-Lévy in Paris.

Moi, Pierre Seel, déporté homosexuel

A few exceptions to this are Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman’s 2000 documentary film, Paragraph 175 (Paragraph 175, was then sodomy provision of the German penal code, dating back to 1871 that led to the arrest of 100,000 men between 1933 and 1945. Only 4,000 survived the imprisonment and concentration camps). Another film that is loosely based on Pierre Seel’s story is 2005’s Un amour à taire (A Love to Hide) which depicts homosexual deportation during World War II and of course, Bent, the 1979 play taking taking place during and after the Night of the Long Knives.

Riva Gambert wants the community-at-large to attend this program. As we collectively examine our shared histories and our contemporary lives she hopes that we can work together to move forward the problems that bullying can create.

I will be attending the program on May 1 but this blog post is one specific chance to say: thank you, Riva. For additional resources on the history of the Gay and Lesbian experience during World War II – I recommend a few of these sites:

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Hyperlocal, Jewish Bay Area

 

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