Podcast Ep #1: Two Ways to Tell a Story
I’ve always found the image of the two sets of tablets and the ark to be deeply evocative. But until I read Gray’s essay, it hadn’t occurred to me that this was a perfect example of non-binary thinking in the Torah, but also a perfect example of the way a non-binary person’s understanding of life can illuminate the Torah.– Joy Ladin
In Torah, there are many instances where two contradictory ideas of God’s relation to humanity is displayed. The truth is that the divine relationship between humanity and God in the Torah isn’t an either-or binary, but rather points to a larger truth.
As a queer, non-binary, Jewish rabbi, Gray Myrseth inherited a tradition with deeply institutional structures. But Grey recognizes that the constant evolution that is foundationally built into rabbinical Judaism has paved a way for them to be part of that lineage.
This week, Joy Ladin guides us through Gray’s work, Two Ways to Tell a Story, taking us on a powerful journey built equally upon continuity and disruption, from Moses shattering the 10 Commandments, to their own journey to find a self that they could inhabit fully, without fear.
What You’ll Discover from this Episode:
- How a non-binary understanding of life can illuminate the Torah.
- Why neither continuity nor disruption are whole without the other.
- The confidence that comes through in Gray’s story and experience of the stories and lessons of the Torah.
- Where we can see examples of non-binary thinking in the Torah.
- The opportunity we have to decide societally what we want to disrupt and what we want to continue.
Featured on this Episode:
Rabbi Gray Myrseth (writer) is the Youth Education Director at Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont, CA. They were ordained at Hebrew College in Boston and have worked extensively with youth of all ages, from pre-school through high school, guiding Jewish learning that is both brightly alive and strongly rooted in Jewish traditions. Rabbi Gray is deeply aligned with the mission of Kehilla Synagogue and Kehilla School, and is eagerly shares their vision of justice-oriented, radically inclusive Jewish life with our community.
Joy Ladin (reader) holds the Gottesman Chair in English at Yeshiva University, and, in 2007, became the first (and still only) openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. Her work has been recognized with a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, an American Council of Learned Societies Research Fellowship, and two Hadassah Brandeis Institute Research Fellowships, among other honors. She is a nationally recognized speaker on trans and Jewish identity, and serves on the Board of Keshet.
Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, PhD (host) is Director of the Hebrew College Innovation Lab. He is Research Professor in the Department of Music & Judaic Studies at Tufts University and Senior Consultant for Hillel International. The author of several books, among his many awards are a 2018 Hebrew College honorary degree, a GRAMMY nomination for his CD Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda, the Edgar M. Bronfman Award for Lifetime Accomplishment in Hillel Professional Leadership, and the Tufts Hosea Ballou Medal.
A special thank you for this episode’s musical contributions:
Intro by: Jackson Mercer
Jackson is an Ordination Candidate at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton, MA. He grew up at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, CA where he cultivated a love of Judaism, embolden with music, spirituality and justice.
Esa Einai (Psalm 121:1)
Music by Jackson Mercer
Guitar and Melody by Jackson Mercer
Harmonies by Cantor Rosalie Will, Ilana Sandberg, Rabbi Micah Shapiro, Rabbi Josh Warshawsky, Noah Diamondstein, Ryan Leszner, Eliana Light.
Outro by: Rabbi Micah Shapiro
Rabbinic Innovation Fellow and Campus Rabbi, University of Pennsylvania
Ordination: Rabbinical School of Hebrew College 2019