Crash Follow-up Email (10/20)

Dear Queer Talmudists,

Wow! I had so much fun with y’all last night! You’re such an amazing group! I can’t wait to start digging into our Talmud learning together next week, and having more of a chance to hear all your voices and swim in all of your torah!

I loved our “afterparty” time and was happy I wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to say goodnight. And I loved reading every one of your chats after I signed off. I had so much FOMO about all the kiki-ing I missed out on while I was flappin’ my lips from the “front of the room”! [I’m actually going to respond to some of your chat comments below and just share some of the deliciousness from the chat, in case you missed it as well.] I’m so excited about all the new ideas that came up during the CRASH Talk last night, and really jazzed about all that I’m already learning from y’all and the new things I’ll be adding to future CRASH Talks, thanks to you!

So, all in all, it was a great start to our time together! And I feel so grateful to every one of you, for showing up in all of your Queer and Trans and loving fabulousness(es), and for…creating the yeshiva of my dreams!

OK! Onto more practical matters! 

Open Fairy Hours

You can grab time to meet with your personal fairy, or any of the other fairies, for one-on-one learning support or conversation by scheduling it here in our Open Hours calendar.

Follow Up From Last Night

The recording of last night’s CRASH Talk can be viewed here (password:1pu9mm!C). We ask that you keep this recording just for yourself and not distribute it to your friends and family or post it online.

You can also access the transcript of last night’s closed captioning here!

Have you had a chance to check out the Queer Talmud for Beginner’s Mind online portal yet (password: talmud2020)?  This is where you can find all of the materials, assignments, Zoom link, and other goodies for our weekly learning. Please take a moment before our next session to go to the “About Y’all” page and introduce yourself to other SVARA-niks in our shiur!

Responding to the Chat

So there were a few comments and questions from the chat that I thought I’d just quickly respond to:

Would you count a white person coming face-to-face with their own unintentional role in white supremacy as being a crash?

  • YES! Absolutely! And this question reminds me that one of the things I forgot to say last night was that “crashes” aren’t necessarily “bad things that happen”; they aren’t unfortunate parts of life. They are life! They can be hard, for sure, and there will always be some kind of loss involved (regardless of which option you take to respond to them). But they’re the things that push us to grow.

So the people excluded from the MS might help the others when the MS crashes for them

  • YES! Exactly! The folks for whom the master story never worked have the most insight, the least baggage/attachment/nostalgia/loss and therefore barriers to overcome in creating a new story, and are likely to be the most passionate and most invested in “rewriting the story” (as long as they haven’t given up hope). So they’re the most prophetic of the prophets!

People who aren’t included in the original MS are the leaders in writing the new MS

  • Exactly. See above.

“Crash” is negative when a crash is actually a good thing

  • Yeah, I guess I call it “crash” to name the sense of loss and “oh no, everything is crumbling around me; the world as I knew it is no longer…and maybe never was…oh shit!” feeling. But you’re right; I should remember to say that it isat least most of the time—a good thing! Or, at least, good or bad, it’s how life works. 

The devil you know…

  • Exactly. That fear of “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know” is sometimes what motivates people to go Option 1. It’s an unfortunate, fear-driven instinct after a crash. 

You have to disconnect from yourself in order to live an untruth

  • Well said! Absolutely. Disconnecting from yourself is at the core of the Option 1 response.

 Is option 1 like anxious attachment and option 2 is like an avoidant attachment?

  • Oh wow, this is so interesting! I never heard of this. I have to do some reading about this. But it sounds right!!

TERFs and transphobes are Option 1 folks

  • YES! 100%. Like I said last night in response, I think all whatever-whatever-phobes are going Option 1. And we should play with this idea more. I never actually thought about it this way, but I think you’re absolutely right!

As a non-queer person, I’m feeling very very grateful to be welcomed here and learn from so much queer wisdom

  • Just wanted to say again how much I loved this! 

Can an option 3 function as an option1 for the next generation who inherits it and feels obliged to stay within and protect it?

  • YES! Forgot to say that: Option 3’s ALWAYS, eventually, become Option 1’s. At least I thiiiiiink that’s true. I have about 1% of doubt, to be honest, because, theoretically, with a “master story” that has within it the mechanisms for even-radical change (which Judaism does and which is why Option 3/rabbinic Judaism has lasted 2,000 years), if access to those tools for change are always completely democratized, then the Option 3 could/should stay constantly in motion, and in a process of growth and becoming ever-true-er. So…maybe radical accessibility, if it can stay in place, along with a system that has internal, “traditionally radical” mechanisms of change—can prevent the Option 3 from becoming an Option 1. Let’s keep working on this!

Yes, I’m trying to mentally prepare for when the babies grow up and tell me my views of gender are so 2020, and I’m gonna be like, “Wait, I thought I was radical…”

  • I hear ya, I hear ya! Yup. But as long as we prepare for that moment, and know that it’s good and necessary, we’ll be able to not get in their way—cuz that’s the kind of shit that makes Option 3’s become Option 1’s! Remember folks: There’s always gonna be someone queer-er than you comin’ down the pike! And that’s SO GOOD and we gotta let them crash what we think is truth.

I wish we had the stories from the people who could not afford to make the pilgrimages to the temple

  • Yeah, me too!

I feel that crumble in so much secular American Jewish communities today

  • Yup. We’re in a big, fucking crumble—on so many fronts right now. But it’s also good. This shit needs to crash.

The “informed” and “learned” part seems super duper important to this.  I think that sometimes people have moral intuitions that they haven’t necessarily examined that end up being harmful. (“well marriage should really just be between a man and a woman, that’s what I feel in my gut to be true!”)  but it makes a lot of sense to think of it as intuition through the lens of examination and thoughtfulness

  • Absolutely. To be a “player” in the Jewish tradition (i.e., to be someone authorized by the system to mess with it and make it better) you have to have two things (neither of which is ordination as a rabbi, by the way, and never has been): 1) You have to be “gamirna”–which means you have to be in a learning relationship with the tradition; you have to steep yourself in the texts, principles, concepts, values, etc., of the tradition (that’s what you come to SVARA for!); and 2) You have to be “savirna”–which means you have to have “moral intuition,” which requires you to be in relationship with people who are different from you, and requires you to have deep insight into human beings and their relationships, and a broad exposure to life (you’ll find a definition of “svara” in your Bet Midrash Reference Guide). In short, yes, the “learning”/”informed” part is super important! “What I feel like” isn’t “svara”; it’s just what you feel like. When your svara is informed by your gemara/learning, then, according to the Jewish system, you get to bring that svara to the table (i.e., to your community) and throw down your tradition-upgrade.

What You’ll Need For Tuesday

  • Zoom Link
  • Dictionaries
    • Your Jastrow Dictionary 
    • Your Frank Dictionary 
  • A copy of Masechet Yoma (the book we sent you)
  • Your Queer Talmud Nerd Folder (we also sent this to you)
  • Your favorite writing implement

Can’t wait to start “getting gamirna” with you next week!

Sending so much SVARA love,

Benay, James & The SVARA Team