Posted by Lia Mandelbaum
I doubt that there is a single person on this planet that has not wrestled with deep-rooted fears, toxic anger, and great sadness. We are not weak or crazy in having them, because they are a part of the human experience, and often the touchstones of spiritual growth, however we must not underestimate pains capacity to harm our quality of life. I have come to understand that these emotions have oppressed me by distorting my perception of reality, blocks me from connecting to others, disconnects me from my heart, and hinders my ambitions and ability to love. This suffering blinds me from the tremendous beauty of life, and separates me from God. It is crucial that we choose to empower ourselves to attain freedom from the bondage of self, which is discovered on the journey towards “truth” and within the belief that you deserve to love and be loved.
There have been times where I have had anger towards a person or situation that consumed me both energetically and mentally. In the past, I have found myself unable to let go and stop obsessing over my feelings. I have come to understand that anger is a defense mechanism for me, which I used to disguise and protect what is usually underlying pain and sadness. Although I rarely find myself getting angry these days, I have found that one of my most powerful tools for letting go of anger is by having empathy. Empathy has helped me when I’ve felt betrayed and hurt by someone I trusted. Instead of getting stuck in resentment, that would only further wound me, I try to understand and relate to where they may be coming from, saying to myself “perhaps they violated my trust over their desire for someone else’s approval, and I can understand how it feels to want approval so badly.” I wish that empathy was always the solution, but there are times when I’ve been tested and it hasn’t always worked for me. It is my responsibility however to continue to search for solutions that leaves my dignity intact.
For a majority of my life, and up until a couple of years ago, I thought of myself as stupid and unlovable, and felt lost and scared. When I was all wrapped up in my misconstrued identity, I was unable to see or process the world around me as it truly was. Living on a path for truth, I’ve dedicated myself to seeing the world with clarity, and allowing myself to be vulnerable enough to let people see me, as the imperfect person that I am. I believe that the concept of perfection is a dangerous and harmful myth. Within every broken person lies delicate beauty and the divine potential for transformation and healing.
People have asked me how I can be so open in my blogs. The truth is, I choose to be open because of the tremendous sense of freedom and healing that comes through revealing my process of introspection. I hid who I was for such a long time, and lost my sense of self through the fear I had about not being lovable, and my hope would be that someone who reads this will relate to what I write, and feel a sense of peace knowing that they are not alone. Our society teaches us that being vulnerable is a weakness, but I believe that being vulnerable and raw is courageous and necessary. I strive to live my life knowing who I am and stay in touch with my essence, and wish the same for others.
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January 28, 2011 | 6:56 pm
Posted by Chanel Dubofsky
Apparently, the evidence is mounting. Let’s examine it, shall we?
1. I don’t talk about having a boyfriend/husband, looking for one, or wanting one, or about how important my straight straightness is.
2. I don’t seem to obsess over my appearance. (for the record, I don’t really understand what this means. I wear lipstick. I look in the mirror several times before leaving the house.)
3. I have outspoken feminist and gender politics, and this means I talk a lot about queer stuff.
It’s clear, based on this evidence, that I must be queer myself, although I identify as straight. (It’s okay if you’re surprised. I’ll give you a moment to reorientate your universe….and now, please, continue reading.)
My sexuality has been up for interpretation for a long time, apparently, as I’ve recently learned. Most people assume I’m queer, for the reasons I’ve listed above, and probably others that I’m not thinking of. I don’t freak out or try to correct them, but as a feminist and someone who works for justice, I do claim my heterosexual privilege when it’s important to being an ally.
If I say I’m straight, people don’t believe me, because I don’t perform according to the version of a sterotypical straight woman. There is so much danger here, in keeping people trapped in rigid gender performance, it literally hurts everyone, it’s the ultimate expression of sexism and homophobia working in tandem. In order to be convincing, I would have to be a different person, apparently, but that would probably make others feel better. They’d be able to figure me out.
January 26, 2011 | 10:19 am
Posted by Naomi Goldberg
Like many Jews, the foundation of my own Jewish experience stems from my time at Jewish summer camp. The weeks I spent surrounded by my Jewish peers living Judaism at Camp Swig and Camp Newman were among the best weeks of my childhood, and they still inform my ideas about myself as a person, a friend, and a Jew. So much of way Jewish summer camp, for me, such a magical place was the enthusiasm for Judaism, which was often conveyed through music.
It was with sadness I read a few weeks ago that Debbie Friedman, the musician who brought Judaism to life for so many, had died. I was fortunate enough to have seen Debbie Friedman perform while I was teaching at a reform congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her spirit and strength were truly inspiring.
I was surprised to see a mention of Debbie being a lesbian in the New York Times coverage of her death. To that end, I wanted to share something I received today from Keshet about Debbie, her life, and her death.
Keshet joins the many thousands all over the world who mourn the loss of Debbie Friedman, zichrona l’bracha. There are no words to capture the transformative impact she had on contemporary Jewish life. Her open, accessible, and expansive approach to liturgy and Jewish music invited so many of us to connect with prayer and a sense of the divine. Debbie challenged us to be our holiest selves. She revolutionized the way we relate to ritual melody and ritual healing, and offered inclusive expression for everyone, LGBT and straight alike. As The New York Times obituary shared, her lyrics about the empowerment of disenfranchised groups stemmed from “the quiet pride she took in her life as a gay woman.” In 2008, Debbie Friedman performed at the Jewish Theological Seminary to mark the one-year anniversary celebration of gay and lesbian rabbinic ordination. Over the past few weeks, there has been much conversation in the Jewish media and blogosphere about Debbie’s sexual orientation and the extent to which she was “out.” Though there is a lot to discuss about LGBT experience in relation to Jewish communal leadership, now is the time to honor the blessing of Debbie’s life and to give her loved ones the time and space for mourning.
January 25, 2011 | 9:49 am
Posted by Naomi Goldberg
Yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced receipt of grants from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, The Morningstar Foundation, and Stuart S. Kurlander to study the workplace policies for LGBT employees at Jewish non-profit organizations.
HRC already releases the Corporate Equality Index, which gauges workplace equality at many of the nation’s largest companies and law firms. It is one of the few places that follows corporate policy and it has been used as a tool to encourage other employers, including the Federal Government, to extend benefits to LGBT employees.
What do you think that this investigation will find? Do you work for Jewish non-profits? How have your experiences been? Do you have domestic partner benefits? Does your organization have non-discrimination policies or gender neutral restrooms? Have you felt supported?
Anecdotally, given the lack of “family supportive” policies, including paid maternity/paternity leave, at Jewish organizations, it is hard to imagine that the results show amazing equality for LGBT employees. But, it is important to point out the gaps, which is probably part of this effort.
January 24, 2011 | 8:47 pm
Posted by Tera Greene
Everything is synchronistic. One thought reminds of another; certain events pave the way for others. It’s all cyclical.
Everything is a chance, teachable moment when you look at it right, and lately, honing compassion has never been easier for every single one of us.
May you find the compassion within the teachable moments now presented to You, to all of Us.
May you reach across the table, start new dialogue and learn to see and be the neighbor within us all.
I came back from helping to host an Eco-Shabbaton retreat this past weekend to celebrate Tu B’Shvat, where we made time for community building, resting, learning about our environment, planting trees and making diy tea-bags and home-made pickles. It was a beautiful moment in time, the first of its kind; a pioneering moment with no room for fear, just open-mindedness, pluralistic engagement and lots of eating.
A happy time.
How quickly it all came back - the fact that the wilderness may be an oasis, but outside there’s another reality.
I decided to go to a restaurant upon getting back into the city. A family of three came into the booth next to me and I soon found out that the youngest child was a special needs child. He screamed, he cried… he was having a hard time. But it didn’t bother me. The daughter apologized for her brother, whom I guessed to be around 10, and then I saw the mother re-locate the family to another booth. Seeing that the teenage sister felt embarrassed, I assured her with a smile that they weren’t bothering me at all. She smiled and said, “Thank you.” They wrapped up their meal a bit before I was about to head out and I made sure I said goodbye. As I went to pay, the waiter came back, apologetically and said, “Oh, sorry, they felt bad and paid for you.” I said, “Oh no, they didn’t have to do that. They were fine.”
I felt bad.
I mean, I like free meals, but they didn’t have to do that because I felt the family did nothing wrong. The son, did afterall, finally settle in.
Let’s face it, I’m cranky, too, when my french fries are late coming.
Though we may have only spent a few seconds actually engaging each other, I began to think: Has our world gotten to the place where compassion has to be rewarded?
I awoke this morning to my alarm. I never really set that alarm any more, but I did for some reason last night. The alarm was set to the talk radio station I listen to somehow. Usually it’s on that loud beeping sound. As soon as the alarm went off, simultaneously the radio came on and a radio voice said, “Breaking news”, and I found myself hearing my first waking thought at 7:22 am - a Russian airport had been attacked. It was scary and saddening to wake up to this, as I had only some hours before fallen to sleep after watching National Geographic’s “Inside 9/11: Zero Hour” with my grandpa, wherein through interspersed tears and memories I watched and re-lived that dark, dark day almost 10 years ago.
During that time in 2001, I was most open to the elements of my emerging womanhood. It was the preamble to a decade wherein I’d truly experience moments to hone my compassion.
Now here I am in 2011, wanting more than ever for everyone else to get on board.
... and if rewards are to be given, incentives to be portioned out, I’ll kindly foot the bill for the compassion to emerge because it’s been a long time coming.
A few days before the recent Martin Luther King holiday, JET Magazine, the No. 1 Black newsweekly, was delivered to our home (JET, Jan 24-31, 2011). This issue contained a photo-spread of highlights from its 60 years of publication, celebrated and “historic highs and lows” captured in time depicting so many vivid memories. On page 38 I stared at the photo and read the caption:
I recalled a time more recent in date, 1/18/2010, where I marched in solidarity with fellow LGBTQ African-Americans and other People of Color and Allies during the Los Angeles Martin Luther King, Jr. parade, colorfully draped in ponchos that were no match for the hail that came down upon us. We were soaked, practically couldn’t see (the wind blew so forcefully) and the hail was heavy.
But, march on we did for our right to Be, as they had done in 1965 marching for the right to be counted, Negroes and Allies alike.
There’s no room for fear when pioneering, regardless of the fears that may be surfacing within you.
...Though, the fear may be at the thought of someone wielding weapons like fists, or worse, harmful machines aimed with eyes ablaze to harm, to steal away life.
On January 8, 2011, Gabrielle Giffords, stepped out into the community - to be engaging, to be visible. But unfortunately, her fearlessness was met with senselessness and she and so many were injured or stripped away from the life they were actively participating in and showing up for to be counted. In their attempt to reach across the table, they were met with a biting hand.
The machine rained down, hailing dark raindrops upon the old and young.
But, at the time of this blog contribution, Giffords is courageously marching on into a remarkable rehabilitation, fearless and strong. As fearless and strong as the people who heroically acted in the face of the harmful machine that aimed to harm that day, acting to protect and help their neighbor in the fast-paced, slow motioned moment that served to teach us all.
Life is about action. There’s no room for fear when acting, regardless of the fears that may be surfacing within you.
There’s only room for compassion, the allowing of synchronicity, and the act of neighborly gestures.
Because at this rate, we all could use a retreat into a more serene, happy time and the only way we’ll get there is by way of our prominent teachable moments.
January 18, 2011 | 12:14 am
Posted by Tera Greene
For all of you wondering what’s coming up for A Wider Bridge, wonder no more! Below is a list of their events for February and March…
Presentations by renowned Israeli photographer Adi Nes… A conference on Queer Judaism… A visit by a delegation of Israeli LGBT teens… These are some of the events that A Wider Bridge is pleased to be co-sponsoring in February and March.
We invite you to join us at the following events:
Presentations by Adi Nes –
Internationally recognized Israeli photographer Adi Nes will present a lecture with slides of his work and be interviewed by Donny Inbar of the Israel Center of the JCF. The work of Adi Nes is highly provocative and his photographs exude homoeroticism and arouse discussion around issues of social justice. The event takes place at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center on February 1 at 7:00 PM. A Wider Bridge is pleased to partner with The Hub of the JCC and the Israel Center of the JCF in co-sponsoring this presentation. For more details, click here. To purchase tickets, click here.
If you’re on the Peninsula, you can also see Adi Nes present his work at the OF JCC Palo Alto on February 2 at 7:30, or earlier that day at Stanford Hillel at 12:30 PM.
Queer Jewish Religiosity in America: Directions and Trends –
At this symposium, Jewish LGBTQ writers, scholars, and clergy will discuss and share recent queer innovations in Jewish liturgy and text. The event begins at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav on the evening of Saturday, February 26 and continues with a full-day program at Stanford University on February 27. Click here for more information, or here for a full program and registration.
A Conversation with Israeli Gay Teens –
A Wider Bridge is one of the lead co-sponsors of a delegation of Israeli teens that will be visiting the San Francisco Bay Area March 14-22. The teens are coming as representatives of Israeli Gay Youth (IGY), an organization that leads more than 40 support groups for LGBT teens throughout Israel. Join A Wider Bridge for an evening of conversation with the teens on March 20 at 6 pm. Details to follow. Learn more about IGY here.
A Wider Bridge presents to the World Union of Progressive Judaism –
On the afternoon of February 10, the delegates to Connections 2011, the biennial conference of the World Union of Progressive Judaism, will have an opportunity to hear about the work of A Wider Bridge. The discussion will take place at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, beginning at 12:30 PM. You can find the event listing here.
We look forward to seeing you at these events!
Executive Director, A Wider Bridge
Program Director, A Wider Bridge
January 10, 2011 | 4:08 pm
Posted by Kalil Cohen
Thursday, January 13 · 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Echo Park Film Center
1200 N Alvarado St. (@ Sunset Blvd.)
Los Angeles, CA
See the Facebook Event
Featuring selections from the 2010 Los Angeles Transgender Film Fest, aka the TG Film Fest. These genre-blurring short films weave elements of documentary and narrative film to entertain and enlighten with sweet, seductive, and subversive visions from the queerest part of the LGBT spectrum. The screening includes works by established and emerging filmmakers including Iris prizewinner Lee Mi-Rang’s The Bath, and Transproofed by Andrea James and Calpernia Addams, the real-life subject of the Emmy-winning Soldiers Girl. Zsa-Zsa Gershick’s Door Prize won for Best Short at the 2010 Kansas City Gay and Lesbian Film Festival while award-winning short Queerer Than Thou has screened at over 50 LGBT film festivals on four continents. These films will make your heart twinge, melt, race, and pound. Enjoy the ride!
FILMMAKERS IN ATTENDANCE!
Tickets are $5 at the door