A Letter to SVARA Learners

by Benay Lappe, President and Rosh Yeshiva

A Letter to SVARA Learners

As many of you know, SVARA has been a refuge for me. In many ways, I created it for myself. I wanted a yeshiva where the learning was as good as that of the best yeshivas in the world, but where I could bring every part of myself into the bet midrash. And because so many of you have come to “play in the sandbox” with me, SVARA has become that yeshiva we all dreamed of.

SVARA is the place where so many of us realize that we were not just going to be allowed to sit at the table of Jewish learning and decision-making, but that it is essential that we be there. SVARA is the place where we who once felt like outsiders, become insiders for the first time. SVARA is the place where we fall in love with Talmud, fall in love with the Rabbis, fall in love with the tradition, and fall in love with our selves in a whole new way.

SVARA is where we realize how traditional our radical queer selves really are, and how queer the tradition has always been. And while this insight has comforted me, it has also ignited in me a passion to teach and share this perspective with others – because how we each understand our tradition and live out our Jewishness have an enormous impact on how we walk through the world. And ultimately, that’s why learning Talmud with a queer teacher, in a room full of queer people, matters. Because it will change how you see yourself and how you live your life, and will reshape the tradition itself for the generations that will follow us.

At SVARA, no matter what your Hebrew level, you will be learning Talmud in the original, from the Vilna Shas. There will never be a translation between you and the text. Nor anyone telling you what the tradition says or what it means. At SVARA, you will gain the skills to look at a page of Talmud – any page – and enter into the millennia-old conversation for yourself.

If you’re already a SVARA-nik, you know how transformative the experience is. If you’ve never been to SVARA, don’t settle for learning about the Jewish tradition. Come learn with SVARA and own it.

I’ll see you in the Bet Midrash!

Rabbi Benay Lappe

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