Nitza’s Attic

Queers and Radicals Bet Midrash

Nearly two thousand years ago, a handful of Queer folk we now call “the Rabbis” gathered secretly in the attic of an ally named Nitza. There they studied and learned, and made radical changes to a Judaism that had lost its ability to guide them in living their lives.

Radical changes are again necessary to ensure that Judaism offer a vision of life and how to live it that is truer than the one it now provides. We are hoping to revive the courageous moral spirit of the original Nitza’s Attic  in a new bet midrash for the Queers and radicals who want to come together to learn and to work on the Judaism of the next era. 

Nitza’s Attic is a smaller, more intimate bet midrash for serious, committed learners – both beginners and advanced – who will bring their life experiences to bear on their learning in explicit ways, are prepared to be held to the highest standards of mastery of the learning, and are willing to see themselves as players in shaping Judaism’s future.

Members of Nitza’s Attic commit to outside chevruta for prep and chazarah (review) of each week’s material, and will be held to a high level of mastery. 

Course Requirements

As always, the requirements of the bet midrash are the ability to sound out (even without comprehension) the alef bet, and the willingness and patience to work through the text in the original Hebrew/Aramaic. As always, no translations will be used and students will be asked not to consult translations outside of class. This will be a mixed-level bet midrash of absolute beginners to experienced learners. The more advanced learners will have the chance to go beyond the Gemara into Rashi, codes, and medieval commentaries. 

All students must attend CRASH, Rabbi Lappe’s introductory talk. See more information about CRASH here.

Selective admission is by application only.


At the first session, students will be provided with a bound volume of the tractate of Talmud we will be learning at a cost of $15. Please bring this $15 (cash or a check made out to SVARA) to the first class. If you have your own unvocalized, unpunctuated, untranslated volume of the Vilna Shas or cannot afford the $15, please be in touch with Mary ([email protected]).

There are two mandatory dictionaries necessary for doing the work of this bet midrash:

  1. A “Jastrow”—Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature, by Marcus Jastrow; and
  2. A “Frank”—Practical Talmud Dictionary, by Yitzhak Frank

These are great dictionaries for any and all future Talmud study (with Rabbi Lappe or elsewhere). Students are required to each have their own Jastrow and their own Frank. [Please, no sharing!] You can order these books through Rosenblum’s in Skokie (Jastrow $36; Frank $24) by sending Micha an email (Let Micha know you’re a student of Rabbi Lappe’s and he’ll set you up with the right books). If you are unable, for financial reasons, to purchase a dictionary at this time, please send Mary a confidential email so that other arrangements can be made. Extra copies of these dictionaries will no longer be available for borrow if you have not made prior arrangements.

Fragrance-Free Zone

Due to the severe chemical sensitivities of several members of our community, including Rabbi Lappe, please be exceedingly careful not to wear any scented products to bet midrash, including perfume, after-shave, hand lotion, moisturizer, etc.


Apply to study in Nitza’s Attic here.

To find out more about Nitza’s Attic, please email [email protected].