Embracing a Eunuch Identity

In addition to being Jewish, I am a member of a definable gender minority that has been conspicuous throughout history. I am a eunuch. Angels in the Torah are the Lord’s trusted messengers; the word angel comes from the Greek word angelos (messenger). In a similar way, eunuchs of biblical times were the emperors’ messengers and guardians. In gender-segregated cultures, our in-betweenness allows us to be able to transgress both worlds.

Manhood and Violence

We want new men in our classes. We’re recruiting -- like the marines -- a few good men who’ll help build a movement of folks who see that being intimate, empathic, and warm is a better way to raise our kids and get along with each other.

Incision and Gender

The uproar over San Francisco’s proposed ban on circumcision has largely died down after a judge struck the measure from the city’s ballot, but the national conversation is far from over. Indeed, just this week, the American Medical Association voted to adopt a policy officially opposing any future attempts by cities or states to outlaw circumcision.

Becoming a Jew Is Dangerous — Circumcision Is the Least of It

Matthew Taylor initiates his sharp critique of brit milah (the covenant of circumcision) with anger ... as a rabbi, I would of course be very engaged by such a confession and would want to know more. But as an introduction to a learned discussion over a ritual practice that is so central to the Jewish narrative, this expression of anger is not exactly conducive to a rational exchange. It is, however, honest and deserves a sober response.

Debating Circumcision

The uproar over San Francisco’s proposed ban on circumcision has largely died but the national conversation is far from over. Indeed, the American Medical Association just voted to oppose all future bans. Don't miss this vigorous debate between opponents and defenders of the practice.

The Gift of the Gay Rights Debate

We grow as religious people through an unlikely combination of courage and humility. It takes courage to question one’s opinions, and humility to recognize that we may not be as right as we thought. It is for this reason that spiritual progressives have rightly embraced the movement for equality for LGBT people not as a condundrum, but as an opportunity for precisely the kind of spiritual maturation we seek.

Turning to the Past to Envision a Different Future: Family Accountability in Eliaichi Kimaro’s “A Lot Like You”

When I saw Eliaichi Kimaro’s documentary A Lot Like You premier at the Seattle International Film Festival this year, one of my first responses to this moving and complex film was to recognize it as a model for a personal and family accountability process. The film brings to life the complicated, messy, beautiful, and liberatory process of addressing harm and seeking healing within a family context.

The Pursuit of Happiness: 2011

The founding mothers of the Women’s Liberation Movement were socialists. We were activists who came from committees against the war in Vietnam. We believed that since we were at the bottom of the wage scale, if we demanded an equal chance for all women, we would rise and bring everyone with us to create an America with full equality for all. Instead, we helped to create near equality for women within a system of ever greater class inequality. A new kind of movement is clearly needed to re-energize our struggles for equality and for a society that values the happiness of all over the power or profits of a few.

Circumcision: Identity, Gender, and Power

Circumcision is seen as the central mitzvah (or commandment) of Judaism. Even for nonreligious Jews, circumcision continues to be perceived as the sine qua non of Jewish identity. And yet, unlike any other controversial topic that we Jews address, the subject of circumcision is not to be challenged. What I intend to do here is to show that cutting out a portion of a child’s genitalia is fundamentally about gender and power.

Understanding America’s Reactions to Politicians’ Sex Scandals: Rep. Anthony Weiner

While the media continually underplays the crimes committed by the United States government both in its daily acts of murder against innocents in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and in its flagrant disregard for the well-being of the people of the US by ignoring the pain they suffer as a result of inadequate jobs and health care, polluted air and water, homelessness, etc., nothing is ever missed when a political leader does some lewd sexual act.

Conquering Veils: Gender and Islams

My cause has always been twofold: women’s equality and Islam. For the world to make sense to me, women and men had to be of equal worth and dignity, just as Islam had to be the true religion. Before I encountered the extremist interpretation of Islam, my world seemed wonderfully whole. Afterwards, my world became fragmented. To glue it back together, I had to reconcile sex equality and Islamic piety.

The Stolen Blessing

The Torah has little to say about transsexuality, but it has a lot to say about people who do hard-to-explain and sometimes terrible things in order to be true to themselves. My personal archetype was Jacob. I had never liked Jacob, but even as a child I recognized his life as an uncomfortably apt metaphor for mine.