Queer Yeshiva Announces Travelling Beit Midrash

SVARA, “a queer yeshiva dedicated to the serious study of Talmud,” has announced its plans to offer Elul workshops for the LGBT community in three U.S. cities this autumn.

Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Benay Lappe will be leading a series of Elul workshops on Preparing for the High Holidays, using texts from the Talmud, Maimonides’ Hilchot Teshuva (Laws of Repentance), as well as Mussar (Jewish ethical) literature. The workshops, like all of SVARA’s classes, are intended for those of all religious traditions, races, genders, sexes, sexualities, and religious observance.
The word teshuva means return, and describes a process of healing and accountability in Jewish tradition. The teshuva process of spiritual inventory and personal stocktaking, typically done between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, requires work and preparation that doesn’t always happen in the short span of the high holidays. For this reason, Jewish tradition has built in an entire month–the month of Elul–to allow us to do the kind of preparation that real teshuva requires. We will study the Jewish tradition’s unique wisdom on repairing relationships (with others, with ourselves, and with God) as we learn how to do teshuva as a daily spiritual practice, not just something we do once a year.
During the workshop we will deal with such questions as: What is teshuva? What is the Jewish notion of “sin”? What if my idea of sin and my tradition’s idea of sin differ? How can I do teshuva with my body, my family, my tradition? How can I heal my soul, my relationships, my community? How exactly do I do teshuva with those whom I’ve hurt? How can I jump-start the teshuva process with those who have hurt me? (On this question, the workshop will also include an in-depth study of tochecha, the art of compassionate critique.)
The primary goals of the program will be to render the process of return (teshuva) accessible to folks who have felt excluded from traditional Jewish practices and to create a community of learners engaged in serious text study as a Jewish spiritual practice. Rabbi Lappe will guide participants on a collective path as well as facilitate a space for personal introspection and healing.

The program will offered in New York, September 18-20; Berkeley, September 25-27; and Chicago on October 2. For more information, click here.

One thought on “Queer Yeshiva Announces Travelling Beit Midrash

  1. man, not in Israel, and way out of my budget. Otherwise, I’d jump on board, cause those are exactly the things I’ve been trying to figure out. But since I won’t be there, here’s a question for the peanut gallery:
    Other than waiting for it to happen on it’s own, how does one go about forgiving people who have hurt you? “jump start the process”, to quote the article. I mean real forgiveness, not some token “I’m mochel you” where hurt feeling remain.
    Any ideas?

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