Family / Uncategorized

Standing on my neighbors’ shoulders

Ufa photo credit: las - initially via photopin cc

When I first came out of the closet at 18, when I first stepped through the doors of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York City at 25 and began the process of fully re-integrating my gay and Jewish identities, I was already standing on the shoulders of giants. Women and men, known and unknown, who forged paths for me to follow, making my journey much safer, giving me the confidence to live an even more fulfilled life. 

Sharing my personal adventures last month with several groups of LGTB 18-26 year olds who visited Kibbutz Hannaton during their whirlwind tour of queer Israel, I realized that my husband and I also have done our fair share of path-forging: adopting three children when the “gayby boom” was still relatively new, particularly for fathers; being the first gay couple to become active members of our until-then-straight synagogue in suburban New Jersey; my enrolling in rabbinical school as soon as the Jewish Theological Seminary ended its anti-LG(BT?) policy in 2007.  When we live our simultaneously sacred and mundane lives with purpose and dignity, and with all our being, it gives honor to those who came before us.

I was swimming in these thoughts last month as I spent the day on bed-rest guard-duty for Rachel, a new Hannaton resident who was eight months pregnant, while her husband Isaac was at work. Rachel and Isaac began their relationship as a lesbian couple. Isaac transitioned genders over time, a process that was legally finalized when the Israeli government issued him a new national ID card identifying his gender-of-choice. Some arcs in their story fascinate me, like the fact that Rachel continues to self-identify as a lesbian, something that is no longer visibly evident when she and Isaac are together.

They are the first transgender family I know to have children together, as a couple. They are my neighbors and I marvel at their lives – at the graceful, matter-of-fact way they demand, expect and assume receiving all the same blessings in life that we all demand, expect and assume to receive.

Perhaps I should not marvel. What would it be like to live in a time and a place when difference did not raise an eyebrow?  Where it is no longer headline news for yet another state or country gives legal recognition to LGBT families.  Where we no longer cringe at stories of LGBT women and men at home and around the world being arrested, beaten or sacrificed on the altars of fear and conformity.  Where it is no longer considered “brave” or “courageous” to simply be.

Yet there is no getting around it.  Rachel and Isaac, who gave birth this past week to a delicious baby girl, are to be marveled.  They are changing the world by forging paths that others like them from generations past could not see or perhaps even envision. Their shoulders are and will continue to be sturdy footholds for our own children, whose view of the world will be even more glorious and full of even more promise than our own.


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One Comment

  1. Another great post. High quality content on VQ!

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