Community Blog Exploring complex relationships with the gender binary
It’s an honor to share this piece by Joey Glick, a friend of Breath Lab from before Breath Lab even had a name. Joey is a wise and caring human (with, side-note, an avid interest in Middle Age Jewish ghosts!) and a soon-to-be-rabbi. He is also a leader of the masculinities group for ordination students at Hebrew College. We can’t imagine anyone more suited to the role of leading this Pesach workshop on Sacred Gender. All genders are invited (needed, really) for the magic to flow. We hope to see you there.
— Yaakov G-S, Breath Lab Co-Director, Hebrew College Rabbinical Student
A few months ago, my friend and teacher Yaakov Ginsberg-Schreck asked if I might be interested in a text and movement collaboration. Yaakov wanted to match me and Adele Moss, a birth-worker in the community and teacher of Jewish texts, with Jeremy Falk and Eliza Wild, two skilled embodiment teachers, for a paired event that would explore the Divine Masculine and Feminine. Adele and I would bring the texts. Jeremy and Eliza would bring the movement.
Yaakov’s invitation initially gave me pause. While I identify as a cis-man, normative masculinities (which for me will always mean Top Gun and the Monday night football music) have always felt unattainable and unappealing. Given that I struggle to squish my own identity into the category of masculinity, it felt fraught to do the same to the Divine.
However, as Adele and I began our textual digging, we found portrayals of God that are comfortingly resonant to my own complex relationship with the gender binary. Within the span of two verses, Isaiah describes God as a destructive warrior and woman crying in labor. A rabbinic commentary on the Book of Lamentations describes angels preventing God from crying in public. I love the way these texts play with and subvert our expectations of gender. They suggest that God is not simply transcendent, above human categories. Rather, God is with us in all our embodied complications and questions. I can’t wait to explore these texts not only with our brains but also with our bodies and breath.
Joey Glick and Yaakov Ginsberg-Schreck are rabbinical students at Hebrew College in Newton Centre, MA.
Learn more and join Joey and Yaakov for “Pesach Full Moon Workshop: Zachar & Nekevah” on March 31 from 7-8:30 p.m., sponsored by Breath Lab at Hebrew College. Breath Lab, a center for Jewish embodiment, is a project of RUACH. RUACH nurtures creative, traditionally rooted Jewish practice, and is a member of Hebrew College’s planned new campus.