An update on QTC 2023

Dear ones,

As the Covid-19 pandemic extends into its third year, the SVARA community continues the holy work of finding new ways to bring the wisdom of our radical queer ancestors to life. We have been dreaming up some sustainable, accessible, and equity-driven pathways to bring more and more people into the spiritual practice of Talmud. We believe this work is a way to support each other and go Option 3 as we witness the pain and complexity of the communal, personal, and global crashes happening all around us. We are blown away by y’all’s commitment to deepening our learning and the connections we have with one another. We know that for many of you, the first time you built these connections was at SVARA’s in-person Queer Talmud Camp: an immersive summer offering that we held from 2015 to 2019 before the pandemic erupted.

There’s no place like Queer Talmud Camp. Gathering for five days in rigorous, queer-normative  learning as a yeshiva has been life-changing for so many of us. The decision to put an in-person Queer Talmud Camp on hiatus in 2020 was painful, and it was informed by a deep commitment to protecting the health and wellness of our learning community. As years have passed, we have wondered about how we might convene an in-person gathering while honoring this same commitment.

In 2022, the SVARA staff began a series of conversations with folks from our board, our learning community, and our justice and equity committee to begin exploring what this might look like. We explored the feasibility—from a budgetary, accessibility, and capacity perspective—of an in-person QTC, alongside hybrid and virtual offerings. We carefully considered each element that made camp feel like camp in order to assess what might be possible, ethical, and equitable. These conversations centered the voices and reflections of high-risk, immunocompromised, and disabled members of SVARA staff, teachers, and community members. It became clear that there was no values-aligned way within our current budget and staff structure to hold a large in-person gathering that wouldn’t alienate, exclude, and invalidate the needs of so many in our community, including those who have felt altogether abandoned by a society that insists on declaring the pandemic a thing of the past. For this reason, our staff, board, and justice and equity committee have concluded that we will not move forward with an in-person Queer Talmud Camp in 2023.

We are all learning how best to uphold our commitments to equity, access, and justice at SVARA, and we are eager to continue tending to the gorgeous and glittery community we’ve built together. While we won’t be convening for an in-person Queer Talmud Camp in 2023, we’re already hard at work dreaming of ways to learn together on and off the daf, this summer and beyond. Stay tuned for more, and thank you again for joining us in this holy work.

With lots of SVARA love,
A SVARA Fairy can be seen through a glass window. They are sitting with their back to the camera, and their green Fairy wings are holding the reflection of the green trees outside.