Torah Queeries

Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible

349 pages

August, 2012

ISBN: 9780814769775



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Gregg Drinkwater is Director for Special Projects at Keshet, an organization working for the full inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish life.

All books by Gregg Drinkwater

Joshua Lesser is the rabbi of Bet Haverim in Atlanta, Georgia, and the founder of the Rainbow Center: A Jewish Response to LGBT people and their families.

All books by Joshua Lesser

David Shneer is Director of the Program in Jewish Studies and Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

All books by David Shneer

Judith Plaskow is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Manhattan College.

All books by Judith Plaskow

In the Jewish tradition, reading of the Torah follows a calendar cycle, with a specific portion assigned each week. 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.” 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 charts 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.”

    The Reporter

  • “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

  • “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

  • “This book, an indispensable resource for all teachers and learners of Torah, in the best way possible makes queers of us all.”

    Jewish Currents

  • “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

  • “The goal of the book is to bring a new set of voices to Torah.”

    New Jersey Jewish News

  • 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

  • “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 Rabbinic oft-name for Torah (Learning) is (Reading) which carries the root (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

  • “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