In the Jewish tradition, reading of the Torah follows a calendar cycle, with a specific portion assigned each week. These weekly portions, read aloud in synagogues around the world, have been subject to interpretation and commentary for centuries. Following on this ancient tradition, Torah Queeries brings together some of the world’s leading rabbis, scholars, and writers to interpret the Torah through a "bent lens". With commentaries on the fifty-four weekly Torah portions and six major Jewish holidays, the concise yet substantive writings collected here open up stimulating new insights and highlight previously neglected perspectives.
This incredibly rich collection unites the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight-allied writers, including some of the most central figures in contemporary American Judaism. All bring to the table unique methods of reading and interpreting that allow the Torah to speak to modern concerns of sexuality, identity, gender, and LGBT life. Torah Queeries offers cultural critique, social commentary, and a vision of community transformation, all done through biblical interpretation. Written to engage readers, draw them in, and, at times, provoke them, Torah Queeries examines topics as divergent as the Levitical sexual prohibitions, the experience of the Exodus, the rape of Dinah, the life of Joseph, and the ritual practices of the ancient Israelites. Most powerfully, the commentaries here chart a future of inclusion and social justice deeply rooted in the Jewish textual tradition.
A labor of intellectual rigor, social justice, and personal passions, Torah Queeries is an exciting and important contribution to the project of democratizing Jewish communities, and an essential guide to understanding the intersection of queerness and Jewishness.
“The point of all these essays is to make us question ourselves and our assumptions and in this purpose, they succeed. . .these authors offer insights into the Torah text that can speak to everyone, regardless of their gender identity.”
“Rabbi Joshua Lesser . . . believes it is time for LGBT people to move beyond simply defending their identities from biblically based attacks. As one of the three editors of Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible, he hopes to push such discussions to a new, more complex level.”-Southern Voice
“This unique and lively work blends the traditional Jewish format of dividing Torah into weekly portions with specifically queer perspectives on them. Torah Queeries unveils a new queer Jewish way to understand this most sacred and central text that will surely stimulate and challenge the reader.”-Rabbi Rebecca T. Alpert,author of Whose Torah? A Concise Guide to Progressive Judaism
“The Rabbinic oft-name for Torah (Learning) is
(Reading) which carries the root-Choice (call), thus seeding the scriputural charge, (interpret me). Sixty briskly written, argumentative, apologetic, slightly political commentaries successfully do so in the spirit of religious freedom and equalitarian (sic)tolerance.”
“The tone of the commentaries varies greatly: some are scholarly treatises drawing heavily on rabbinic sources, some are sociological or biological studies, while others are deeply moving personal essays. The book includes bibliographical references and an index. Highly recommended for all libraries.”-Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletters
“Provides a challenge to readers and preachers who are single-mindedly devoted to the straight and narrow.”
-Daniel Boyarin,author of Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture
“Gives engaged, pertinent, GLBT-focused meaning to the Tanach. The analyses offered here work to break boundaries, queer-ing, celebrating, and re-creating our Jewish texts and traditions in meaningful ways. These acts of reading become the radical movement of making a space for GLBT Jews that is clever, humorous, loving, and thought-provoking.”
-Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum,Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, New York
“While the CJM invites artists to interpret the week’s Torah portions, Torah Queeries invites LGBT individuals and allies to do so. Both should be celebrated and embraced for their creativity, innovation, and depth.”-Jewish News Weekly of Northern California
“The goal of the book is to bring a new set of voices to Torah.”-New Jersey Jewish News
“With Torah Queeries, no longer is the LGBT community an outsider in the Bible...[This volume is] a must for the Jewish bookshelf.”-The Jerusalem Post
“This book, an indispensable resource for all teachers and learners of Torah, in the best way possible makes queers of us all.”
“Torah Queeries attempts to be a broader study of the Five Books of Moses, with discussion of every Torah portion, rather than just those that might be particularly difficult or inspiring to LGBT Jews.”-Jewish Exponent