Shabbat ha-Lepre-cohen – Potluck Lunch and Learn: Jews in Ireland (March 17, 2018)

Join Ruach HaYam on March 17, 2018, for a Saturday morning Shabbat service followed by potluck lunch and learn on the Jews of Ireland – in honor of St Patrick’s Day.   Arrive at 9:30am to schmooze and help set up. Service will begin at 10am.

For the potluck please bring veggie/dairy food and any experience you have regarding Irish Jews.

This lunch and learn will be led by our Ruach HaYam partner and service leader, Marvin Kabakoff.  Marvin graduated from Brandeis and received a Ph.D. in history from Washington University-St. Louis. He is recently retired as an archivist with the National Archives and Records Administration, and is an adjunct in the Simmons Library School.

We worship without a mechitza, and with acoustic music only. We have our own siddur. Our services and study sessions are warm, meaningful, collaborative, lead to deepening of friendships, and are simply fabulous.

Trans(forming) Angels in Jewish Lore: Gender, Trauma, and More – February 15, 2018

Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, 136 Magazine Street, Cambridge, MA – February 15, 2018. See end of post for logistics.

Inspired by our reading of Julia Watts Belser and Ezekiel, and coming out of long studies on these matters, Ezra Rose Greenfield, Ruach HaYam member, darshan, and workshop leader, will teach about the multiplicity of different places that angels appear as supports/catalysts for transition. They will present some of the Hechalot literature (early Merkavah mysticism) as well as teachings by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. Rabbi Ruttenberg has explored a medieval ruling on the transition of Elijah from man to angel, and how this was used in an early modern trans rights case.

Ezra Rose Greenfield is an artist and educator (BFA ’09 RISD, M.Ed. ’12 Lesley University) living in the Boston area and teaching with community-based youth advocacy organizations. Their work explores themes of memory, mythology, personal symbolism and storytelling. Raised in Reform congregations in the midwest, Ezra is redefining and reconnecting to Judaism as an adult with a focus on integrating queer and trans identity with Jewish magic, mysticism and spirituality.

** Logistics**
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Breaking the Binary: King David and his Dualities – January 18, 2018

Breaking the Binary: King David and his Dualities – January 18, 2018
6:45pm – 9:15pm @ Eitz Chayim

(See logistics at end)

In many ways, bisexuality is binary breaking; it defies the notion that people have to bat for one team. But the word can also carry binary notions of its own. Enter King David: poet, warrior, king, lover of both men and women. What binaries does he break? Which does he enforce? And why does it matter that the man involved is King David, hero of heroes?

We’re so excited to have one of our long time members, Sarah Pasternak lead this session. Sarah hails from a Jewishly diverse family that has been engaging her in Judaism and Jewish texts for the past quarter century. Sarah serves as leyner and gabbai for our Shabbat morning services.

** Logistics**
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Disability and Divine Power: Reading Julia Watts Belser (December 21, 2017)

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Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, 136 Magazine Street, Cambridge, MA  – December 21, 2017.  See end of post for logistics.

This study is led by Penina Weinberg.

Banner for event has a painting of an ecstatic person in red, possibly flaming, dress whirling in a blue wheel chair. Caption is
“Ezekiel’s vision split open my own imagination. Hearing those words chanted, I felt a jolt of recognition, an intimate familiarity. I thought: God has wheels!”
from “God on Wheels—Disability and Jewish Feminist Theology”
by Julia Watts Belser in Tikkun 2014
Illustration from the article: “Whirlwheel” by Olivia Wise. [end of caption]

Article can be found here via subscription or access through a library:  http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/god-on-wheels

Join us for an introduction by Penina Weinberg to the work of Julia Watts Belser on disability studies, and a relevant Talmud text study with Ruach HaYam member Ariel Cohen. Many of us wish for and hope for a world that will be accessible to all, and accepting of all. But there is much more. As Belser writes: “I fear that by conceptualizing disability primarily as an access problem to be solved, we fail to invite in the vibrant, transgressive potential of disability culture: of a ‘crip’ sensibility that celebrates disability as a way of life, a radically different way of moving through the world.” The notion of celebrating a vibrant and transrgessive culture will be familiar to queer Jews who wish to participate in celebration, not just tolerance.

Julia Watts Belser, whose work we will read, is an Associate Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Georgetown University, with expertise in rabbinic literature and Jewish feminist ethics, with a focus on gender, sexuality, and disability studies. She is the author of Power, Ethics and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity: Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Disaster (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem (Oxford UniversityBar Press, 2017).

Barb Ariel Cohen is the Chief Scientific Officer of Arex Life Sciences, a biotech startup enabling physicians to more successfully treat male infertility. Ariel has been studying for the past 20 years with her rebbe Rabbi Alan Ullman, including a small private study group which he took to Israel.

  • Ruach HaYam study sessions provide a queer Jewish look at text, but are open to any learning or faith background and friendly to beginners.
  • Study starts promptly at 7:15 pm. However we open the doors at 6:45 for schmoozing. Feel free to bring your own veggie snack for the early part.
  • A parking consideration is in effect for the three blocks around EC during all regularly scheduled events.  It’s a good idea to put a note in the windshield that you are attending an event at EC.
  • Accessibility information: all gender/accessible bathrooms, entry ramp.

Penina Weinberg is an independent Hebrew bible scholar whose study and teaching focus on the intersection of power, politics and gender in the Hebrew Bible. She has run workshops for Nehirim and Keshet and has been teaching Hebrew bible for 10 years. She has written in Tikkun, founded the group Ruach HaYam and is president emerita and webmaster at her synagogue. Penina is a mother and grandmother.

Ruach HaYam Shabbat Retreat November 18, 2017

Ruach HaYam, in partnership with Congregation Am Tikva, invites you to our fifth annual full day Shabbat retreat for LGBTQ Jews and friends and family.

November 18, 2017, from 9:30am to 7:30pm at Congregation Eitz Chayim, 136 Magazine Street, Cambridge, MA 02139.

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED
PLEASE REGISTER HERE

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Eitz Chayim is 15 minutes walk from Central Square.  There will be a parking consideration in effect so that you may park within a couple blocks of the synagogue.   Eitz Chayim has a ramp entry and accessible and all gender bathrooms.

Refresh your spirit and make new friends in this fabulous day of egalitarian davening, creative and thoughtful workshops,and delicious kosher food!

Ruach HaYam Ruach HaYam welcomes queer Jews, friends, allies, family, and interfaith connections to our events. We organize short and all day Shabbat events, as well as queer Jewish text studies in the Boston area through out the year.  We worship without a mechitza, with acoustic music only, and with our own siddur. Services are warm, meaningful, collaborative, lead to deepening of friendships, and are simply fabulous. Full day Shabbat retreats include scholarly and experiential workshops and plenty of time to schmooze. Although Ruach HaYam speaks with a queer Jewish voice, we welcome persons of all gender and faith identities. We are friendly to beginners.

Schedule for Retreat  Continue reading

Gendered in the image of God: The first human (August 17, 2017)

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Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, 136 Magazine Street, Cambridge, MA  – August 17, 2017.  See end of post for logistics.

This study is led by Penina Weinberg.

In speaking of the creation, the Kabbalists call the first human du-partzufin, a Greek term meaning two visages, ie two faces on one body, not two bodies. They describe the divine and human each as bi-sexual. They say that both genders are present in all humans and that this is the image of the divine.
What does that actually mean? How does non-binary fit into this idea?
We will read from Genesis and from the Kabbalists in an effort to see the biblical story of the creation in a new light, and to make greater sense of our own gender journeys.

  • Ruach HaYam study sessions provide a queer Jewish look at text, but are open to any learning or faith background and friendly to beginners.
  • Study starts promptly at 7:15 pm. However we open the doors at 6:45 for schmoozing. Feel free to bring your own veggie snack for the early part.
  • A parking consideration is in effect for the three blocks around EC during all regularly scheduled events.  It’s a good idea to put a note in the windshield that you are attending an event at EC.
  • Accessibility information: all gender/accessible bathrooms, entry ramp.

Penina Weinberg is an independent Hebrew bible scholar whose study and teaching focus on the intersection of power, politics and gender in the Hebrew Bible. She has run workshops for Nehirim and Keshet and has been teaching Hebrew bible for 10 years. She has written in Tikkun, founded the group Ruach HaYam and is president emerita and webmaster at her synagogue. Penina is a mother and grandmother.

Women’s Voices in the Talmud (July 13, 2017)

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Ruach HaYam Workshop @ Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA
July 31, 2017.  See end of post for logistics.

This study is led by Jonah P

We’re very excited to have guest teacher Jonah P back for a second year! Don’t miss this opportunity!

The Talmud was the project of hundreds of male rabbis over many generations. When and where do women’s voices appear? Who are the female characters who elbow their way into the stories and legal cases? What wisdom did they leave us with? In this session, we will listen to these women’s voices and attempt to understand how their experiences influenced the legal system of their day and shaped the wisdom of the Talmud.

This will be a text learning session which is open to any learning background and friendly to beginners (English translations provided for everything).

About the facilitator: Jonah P. has been reveling in the intersection of queer/trans and Judaism since becoming active in the Boston Jewish community in 2011. He recently completed a year of learning at Yeshivat Hadar and is currently learning in Jerusalem.

  • Ruach HaYam study sessions provide a queer Jewish look at text, but are open to any learning or faith background and friendly to beginners.
  • Study starts promptly at 7:15 pm. However we open the doors at 6:45 for schmoozing. Feel free to bring your own veggie snack for the early part.
  • A parking consideration is in effect for the three blocks around EC during all regularly scheduled events.  It’s a good idea to put a note in the windshield that you are attending an event at EC.
  • Accessibility information: all gender/accessible bathrooms, entry ramp.

Sex of the Soul: Gendered in the Image of God (June 22, 2017)

The text which we will look at after reviewing the place of Mopsik’s work in the history of the Kabbalah is here:       Mopsik Sex of the Soul pp 46-52

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Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA
June 22, 2017.  See end of post for logistics.

This study is led by Penina Weinberg.

We will dip one toenail into Charles Mopsik’s book: Sex of the Soul: The Vicissitudes of Sexual Difference in the Kabbalah. Mopsik was a modern scholar of Kabbalah. With him we will re-visit the creation of humans in the image of God and explore what it means, according to the kabbalists, for the soul to be both male and female in every human. This will not be a study in depth, but will open a tiny peep hole into an amazing world of thought. Mopsik warns us that we cannot pull this knowledge into modern reality, but it will illuminate our own thinking on the questions of gender.

“Clearly it is out of the question to draw a direct lesson from these classic texts and apply them to modern reality… Nevertheless, even though there is no way of equating them, the parallels are thought-provoking and can guide attempts to find solutions to the problems raised… The religious recognition and acceptance of polymorphism in human sexual identity, bisexuality, the acknowledgement of a gulf between external gender and ontological real gender, the existence of parents who are basically of the same gender, and a complex economy of desire differing vastly from so-called natural instinct, all demonstrate the flexibility of kabbalistic mystical belief as it attempted to grapple with the infinite variety of human existence.”

  • Ruach HaYam study sessions provide a queer Jewish look at text, but are open to any learning or faith background and friendly to beginners.
  • Study starts promptly at 7:15 pm. However we open the doors at 6:45 for schmoozing. Feel free to bring your own veggie snack for the early part.
  • A parking consideration is in effect for the three blocks around EC during all regularly scheduled events.  It’s a good idea to put a note in the windshield that you are attending an event at EC.
  • Accessibility information: all gender/accessible bathrooms, entry ramp.

Penina Weinberg is an independent Hebrew bible scholar whose study and teaching focus on the intersection of power, politics and gender in the Hebrew Bible. She has run workshops for Nehirim and Keshet and has been teaching Hebrew bible for 10 years. She has written in Tikkun, founded the group Ruach HaYam and is president emerita and chair of various committees in her synagogue. Penina is a mother and grandmother.

Pre-Shavuot Shabbat and Potluck Lunch and Learn: RUTH (May 20, 2017)

Join Ruach HaYam on March 20, 2017, for a Saturday morning Shabbat service followed by potluck lunch and learn on Ruth.   Get ready for Shavuot! Arrive at 9:30am to schmooze and help set up. Service will begin at 10am.

For the potluck please bring veggie/dairy food and your ideas on Ruth.

We worship without a mechitza, and with acoustic music only. We have our own siddur. Our services and study sessions are warm, meaningful, collaborative, lead to deepening of friendships, and are simply fabulous.

Saul and the Necromancer of Endor (April 20, 2017)

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Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA
April 20, 2017.  See end of post for logistics.

This study is led by Penina Weinberg.

King Saul’s visit to the necromancer of Endor (1 Kings 28) introduces us to man who is at the end of his political life but hoping for saving words from beyond the grave. Saul hopes the necromancer will bring up the ghost of Samuel to help him. We will look at what drives Saul politically to seek out the necromancer, and at how the woman’s wizardry bypasses the traditional authority structure. Ruach HaYam member Sarah Pasternak will lead us in a discussion of Saul’s struggle with his own mortality and forthcoming irrelevance (with the regime change to David). This story has power politics, confrontation with mortality, and the story of a woman who defies the king’s decree.

It turns out that the Kabbalist Hayyim Vital, writing at the end of the 16th century, discussed the women diviners of his day in great detail, some of whom commanded respect and obedience from great rabbis of the day. The modern scholar J.H. Chajes sums up his essay about Vital and the diviners thus: “Their authority was not based on their scholarship or communal post… Their commanding voices were heard because they were benign witches, expert diviners, vivid dreamers, acute dream interpreters, and socially conscious prophets.” In our class, along with examining Saul’s motivations, we will ponder Chajes’ study in conjunction with the comments of Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael quoted on the event banner.

  • Ruach HaYam study sessions provide a queer Jewish look at text, but are open to any learning or faith background and friendly to beginners.
  • Study starts promptly at 7:15 pm. However we open the doors at 6:45 for schmoozing. Feel free to bring your own veggie snack for the early part.
  • A parking consideration is in effect for the three blocks around EC during all regularly scheduled events.  It’s a good idea to put a note in the windshield that you are attending an event at EC.
  • Accessibility information: all gender/accessible bathrooms, entry ramp.

Penina Weinberg is an independent Hebrew bible scholar whose study and teaching focus on the intersection of power, politics and gender in the Hebrew Bible. She has run workshops for Nehirim and Keshet and has been teaching Hebrew bible for 10 years. She has written in Tikkun, founded the group Ruach HaYam and is president emerita and chair of various committees in her synagogue. Penina is a mother and grandmother.