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... in keeping with the Reform movement's tradition of liberal positions on human sexuality.
August 9, 2007 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Official transgender blessings -- Kulanu -- the newly-revised manual for LGBT issues and ceremonies put out by the Union for Reform Judaism (1.5 million US Jews are Reform) now includes 2 blessings (written by a Rabbi now male) for those transitioning and who have completed the change, alongside the already existing same sex marriage liturgy and other documents and procedures. A first? (blessings text inside)
posted by amberglow (50 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
During transitioning: "Blessed are You, Eternal One, our God, Ruler of time and space, the Transforming One to those who transform/transition/cross over."
For when it's done: "Blessed are You, Eternal One our God, Ruler of time and space, who has made me in God's image."

There are PDFS around for Rabbi Kukla on transgender issues and synagogues, too.
posted by amberglow at 10:03 PM on August 9, 2007


a little more here too: .... "There was a conversation about what we should include and what we shouldn’t include," Rabbi Richard Address, who serves as an editor of Kulanu, said.
Added Address, who is also the director of the Reform Union’s Department of Family concerns, "This was going to be a little bit out there."
...

posted by amberglow at 10:06 PM on August 9, 2007


Rainbow flagged as other.
posted by Poolio at 10:08 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is there something more to say than mazel?

Best seder I ever went to was last year and it was the gayest fuckin' seder ever, good lord did we rock some reform ass lesbian prayers and was it the first time I ever teared up at a seder in my 31 years on this earth? Yes! Also we had a mess of wine, but I'm not the type who cries behind a mess of wine. I loves me a reform seder, talk about humanism and chicken livers, oh boy.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:13 PM on August 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Is Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's fatwa permitting sex-change operations relevant?
In contrast to almost everywhere else in the Muslim world, sex change operations are legal in Iran for anyone who can afford the minimum $3,500 cost and satisfy interviewers that he or she meets necessary psychological criteria.... However, there is still a great deal of stigma attached to the idea of transsexuality and gender reassignment in ordinary Iranian society, and most transsexuals, after completing their transition, are advised to maintain discretion about their past.
posted by Jimbob at 10:15 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


This seems like rank hypocrisy to me. Their holy book is quite clear that this sort of thing is an abomination to their god.

To be clear, it's not an abomination to me.
posted by Flunkie at 10:15 PM on August 9, 2007


For when it's done: "Blessed are You, Eternal One our God, Ruler of time and space, who has made me in God's image."

Shouldn't it be "... who has remade me in God's image." ?
posted by Poolio at 10:18 PM on August 9, 2007


So, if a transsexual Jew has a phalloplasty, do they have it pre-circumscised or do they pay a little extra for the doctor to build them some foreskin so they can have a proper bris? Maybe this might herald new branches of Reform Judaism along the cut lines.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:23 PM on August 9, 2007


Shouldn't it be "... who has remade me in God's image."

Who's to say what god's image is, and constitutes manifesting or not manifesting that image? Maybe having to come out as trans, and going through the whole transitioning thing is a part of it?
posted by taursir at 10:24 PM on August 9, 2007


Just thank your God that you (probably) are content with the nads you have. I subscribe to the D.R. school of sexuality: you go to bed with the nads you have, not the nads you want.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 PM on August 9, 2007


Does this mean mohels may have more work on their hands?

@flunkie -- the book itself is hypocritical. Jews are good about arguing the crap out of what it means... hence the expression "three rabbis, five opinions." There is room for this, believe me!
posted by rouftop at 10:33 PM on August 9, 2007


on preview, damn you burhanistan
posted by rouftop at 10:35 PM on August 9, 2007


Who's to say what god's image is, and constitutes manifesting or not manifesting that image?
There's ancient stuff around about how Adam was intersex or a hermaphrodite or something, too, and he was created in God's image, according to the account.
posted by amberglow at 10:35 PM on August 9, 2007


There's ancient stuff around about how Adam was intersex or a hermaphrodite or something, too, and he was created in God's image, according to the account.

The idea goes that Adam was intersexual because of being made in God's image. In Genesis, the word for God is elohim, which is plural, and if I understand, gender-neutral or gender-inclusive.
posted by jiawen at 10:38 PM on August 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Any fool knows that "created in God's image" means that man has the capacity to act as a creative entity. It doesn't mean God has a schlong but really wants to hack it off and grow some tits. In fact, it it really has nothing to do with physicality, actually.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:38 PM on August 9, 2007


I always wondered for what purpose God would have sexual organs. You know, assuming there's only One of Him up there in heaven.

Although he did get Mary knocked up, I guess...
posted by Jimbob at 10:39 PM on August 9, 2007


you go to bed with the nads you have, not the nads you want.

We're going to be quoting him until 2050.
posted by blacklite at 10:40 PM on August 9, 2007


I always wondered for what purpose God would have sexual organs.
I've always thought God would be all gradient blended and very multiple (maybe like a Hindu God?) if there was a physical form at all, since we're all supposed to be created in his image and we're all different colors and sexes and shapes and sizes, etc.
posted by amberglow at 10:44 PM on August 9, 2007


Although he did get Mary knocked up, I guess...

Wait... I thought He came to her as a beautiful swan? Or bull? Or Screamin' Jay Hawkins?
Growing up as a Catholic, I was always assured that God was beyond gender. And of course, only men can ever really get beyond gender.... It is to weep.
posted by maryh at 10:46 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


In Genesis, the word for God is elohim, which is plural, and if I understand, gender-neutral or gender-inclusive.

Elohim doesn't refer to Jehovah, but more what could be called the "heavenly host". That is, a kind of agent that gets the nuts and bolts of creation going. Jehovah breathed the Word or issued the command, and the Elohim does the legwork.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:46 PM on August 9, 2007


In fact, it it really has nothing to do with physicality, actually.
That doesn't make sense, considering God specifically and explicitly physically created Adam right after he was physically creating everything else (and then Eve, and maybe Lillith before that, etc).
posted by amberglow at 10:47 PM on August 9, 2007


Ok, then I'll put it more bluntly: YOU'RE HURTING AMERICA WITH YOUR ANTHROPOMORPHIC CREATOR CONCEPT!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:49 PM on August 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whoops, bedtime for burhanistan.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:50 PM on August 9, 2007


Ok, then I'll put it more bluntly: YOU'RE HURTING AMERICA WITH YOUR ANTHROPOMORPHIC CREATOR CONCEPT!

We created the whole concept of God, so we can picture him/her/it however we want (but no graven images!) ; >
posted by amberglow at 10:54 PM on August 9, 2007


This seems like rank hypocrisy to me. Their holy book is quite clear that this sort of thing is an abomination to their god.

Dude we're Reform Jews we can do whatever we want. Cause we're awesome like that.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:30 PM on August 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


Except the whole Jesus thing... Gotta draw the line somewhere I guess.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 11:35 PM on August 9, 2007


I'm agnostic, but things like this remind me of why I tend to like Jews, and why I wonder how it is that so many people complain about them. Making prayers for "abominations of god" is some mighty neat shit.
posted by revmitcz at 12:02 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also: Vicar plans sex change

In which case, she can probably bless herself.
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 1:40 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've always thought God would be all gradient blended and very multiple (maybe like a Hindu God?) if there was a physical form at all, since we're all supposed to be created in his image and we're all different colors and sexes and shapes and sizes, etc.

I suspect god is more likely to be css with a user selectable stylesheet. The sad part is that god still hasn't released an API and everything has to reverse engineered and hacked.
posted by srboisvert at 2:08 AM on August 10, 2007 [5 favorites]


Elohim doesn't refer to Jehovah, but more what could be called the "heavenly host". That is, a kind of agent that gets the nuts and bolts of creation going. Jehovah breathed the Word or issued the command, and the Elohim does the legwork.

So God is the AI and the Elohim are the angels?

I did a paper on that...
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:05 AM on August 10, 2007


Agents, not angels, dammit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:07 AM on August 10, 2007


Here I sit listening to Norah Jones, glad to know that Judaism and Islam have at least some sense of the diversity inherent in humanity.
posted by michswiss at 6:23 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Address acknowledged conversations about whether the sex-change blessings would be viewed as offensive, but the decision was to "to err on the side of inclusivity."

There may be hope for us apes yet.
posted by mephron at 7:33 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


rouftop: Does this mean mohels may have more work on their hands?

No. I've actually seen an (Orthodox!) ruling that FtM guys do not need circumcision. This was at the end of a rather inconclusive chapter about the permissability and halakhic status (male or female) of FtM people: "In conclusion, we have no idea. BUT for reasons X Y and Z, (which unfortunately I can't remember) we are sure that FtM people need not have a bris." I don't remember what book it was in; I got it off someone's shelf while I was housesitting.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:43 AM on August 10, 2007


Flunkie:

This seems like rank hypocrisy to me. Their holy book is quite clear that this sort of thing is an abomination to their god.

Reform Judaism does not hold the Torah in the same regard as do other religions/denominations like Orthodox Judaism.
posted by callmejay at 8:06 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


this fab related site might be of interest too: Jewish Mosaic (especially their Torah Queeries each week)
posted by amberglow at 10:26 AM on August 10, 2007


and an interesting article by the Rabbi who wrote the blessings --The Twisted Wick
posted by amberglow at 10:39 AM on August 10, 2007


Amberglow: "There's ancient stuff around about how Adam was intersex or a hermaphrodite or something, too, and he was created in God's image, according to the account."

Technically - when God created Adam, God did not yet know that he would be creating a woman. It was only after Adam grew lonely that God created for Adam a companion. Therefore, it would be rather silly for God to have created Adam with a penis or other differentiating organ prior to the existence of two genders. Furthermore, in Genesis ish is usually used to denote male gender - ishah for female - "ish" is not employed until after God creates Eve. Prior to Eve's creation they preface Adam with a definite article - "ha-adam" or "the Adam." This is probably related to the word for dust - adamah. Essentially - god makes the dustman out of dust - wordplay. Many early Jewish interpretations assume the dustman (ha-adam) was a sort of androgynous creature that was later differentiated.

For more on this - check out Phyllis Trible's God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Excellent stuff. Great link - btw - we have many, many different ceremonies for life-events in the United Church of Christ (I was recently asked to oversee a ceremony for the recognition of divorce) and I love sharing this stuff with my peers in the church.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:13 AM on August 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nobody knows except shamans who eat shrooms.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:15 AM on August 10, 2007


"In Genesis, the word for God is elohim, which is plural, and if I understand, gender-neutral or gender-inclusive."
Re - elohim, upthread - you don't need an interlinear to understand this, though it's really only relevant in the first account of creation - after this God becomes a single entity. Just open up any modern translation of the Bible and you'll see that in the first creation account (Gen 1) God refers to Godself as "us." -- "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Gen 1:26. Then God makes man and woman. Though in Gen 2 the whole thing starts over again with the second creation account.
fyi - in Christian orthodoxy St. John reconciles this by arguing that Christ is the Word incarnate, hence present at the creation event - so the "us" God is speaking of is really "me and J.C. here." But John was kind of a nutter.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:39 AM on August 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Many early Jewish interpretations assume the dustman (ha-adam) was a sort of androgynous creature that was later differentiated.
That's what i had heard. I'll check out that book--thanks!
(and UCC is cool--you guys and the UU people)
posted by amberglow at 4:02 PM on August 10, 2007


It is weird that a man was first since they can't reproduce. A woman should have been first. (altho since men wrote it, i'm not surprised)
posted by amberglow at 4:07 PM on August 10, 2007


amberglow: Well, uh, women can't reproduce, either. You kinda need both.

Unless God just wanted to skip a few thousand years and go straight to making the Virgin Mary. Jesus would have grown up very lonely and without anyone to really save after his mom. Then she'd have to act as all of the apostles, be judge, jury, and executioner, and nail him to some sticks. She couldn't really go on to be a "fisher of men," 'cause it would just be her. At that point, she writes on some scrolls, "A Very Short History of the One True Church," dies, and that's pretty much it.
posted by adipocere at 4:32 PM on August 10, 2007


well, women bear kids and only need sperm to continue making people, not men--God could have worked around the sperm part.

It's like he did a test run with Adam, then made Eve, then had to figure out the whole sex/procreation thing, as opposed to the golem-like creation of Adam.
posted by amberglow at 4:51 PM on August 10, 2007


(and i won't even get into the whole incest thing w/Cain and Abel and their sisters)
posted by amberglow at 4:52 PM on August 10, 2007


Technically - when God created Adam, God did not yet know that he would be creating a woman.

Well, again there are two creation accounts, and in the first (Gen 1:27) God (Elohim) creates them both at the same time: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them," as the King James has it. The second account calls God Yahweh and has the familiar story of the rib, the apple, etc.
posted by whir at 5:46 PM on August 10, 2007


how come the King James people changed the story?
posted by amberglow at 9:59 AM on August 12, 2007


Because they've been lying about God for a long time now.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:24 AM on August 12, 2007


we should do a class-action suit against them, like Mattel does with Barbie, and all corps do with their creations. ; >
posted by amberglow at 12:39 PM on August 12, 2007


related, but way behind us: Lutheran gay pastors can have a relationship now
posted by amberglow at 2:30 PM on August 14, 2007


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