Trans Halakha Project
The unique lives, bodies, and experiences of this growing subset of our community demands a new halakha (pathways and practices of Jewish expression). The Trans Halakha Project seeks to empower and nourish the trans Jews whose experiences are not yet at the center of halakhic exploration.
SVARA’s Trans Halakha Project has several distinct goals:
- Create euphoric and celebratory opportunities for trans Jews to learn and explore their personal relationship to halakha
- Curate existing and developing resources that have been created for trans Jews, by trans Jews.
- Develop new halakhic literature that addresses the needs and experiences of trans Jews authentically and without reservation
trans-authored teshuvot as well as Tefillat Trans: Blessings and Rituals for Trans Lives. We invite you to read them, engage with them, and tell us how they’re being incorporated into your life.The Trans Halakha Project is enormously proud of two recent publications: a collection of
Help the Trans Halakha Project team grow!
We feel blessed to have the insight and guidance of our Steering Committee:
Ariel Ya’akov Dunat (they/them/הוא) is a fourth-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC. They are impassioned about halakha and how it intersects with the multifaceted identities we hold as individuals and communities. In addition to JTS, Ariel is learning hilkhot shechita (the laws of kosher slaughter) planning to receive certification during the summer of 2024. Their passions include reading anbout and discussing halakha and theology, as well as cooking and exploring local sites with their husband and dog.
Rabbi Becky Silverstein (he/him) | Co-director believes in the power of community, Torah, and silliness in transforming the world. He strives to build a Jewish community and world that encourages and allows everyone to live a life that reflects their inherent divinity / dignity. Becky is a Schusterman Fellow, and co-initiator of the Trans Halakha Project. He currently serves on the boards of SVARA and the Jewish Studio Project. Becky grew up in New York, holds a B.S. in Engineering from Smith College and Rabbinic Ordination from the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. Becky resides in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts with his spouse, Naomi Sobel, and kiddos, Edie Gefen and Charlie Alon.
Binya Kóatz (she/they) is a sefardi / ashki / moroccan / argentinean / ukranian / french trans jewish torah-lover, who writes poetry, organizes jewish community and sings and dances with her foremothers. she revels in languages, and can’t *believe* the radical gay anarchist tradition she’s been tasked with carrying forth. originally from the alte heim in Queens, she currently resides on Ohlone Land in the East Bay.
Franco Martinez (they/them) is a queer non-binary Jew who calls Bay Area home and is a member of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav. Though their life is spent mostly in a theater, they somehow find the time to study Jewish texts, or texts about Jewish texts, and explore a deep rich world of ideas and seemingly opposed concepts. They are currently navigating through life without a map.”
Laynie Soloman (they/them) | Co-director is a passionate teacher of Jewish text and thought, and they believe deeply in the power of Talmud study as a healing and liberatory spiritual practice. They love facilitating Jewish learning that uplifts the piously irreverent, queer, and subversive spirit of rabbinic text and theology. Laynie holds a M.A. in Jewish Education from The Jewish Theological Seminary, is a Schusterman Fellow (Cohort 5), and received the Covenant Foundation’s 2020 Pomegranate Prize for Emerging Jewish Educators. Laynie is an Ashkenazi third generation Philadelphian, and when they’re not learning Talmud, you can find Laynie reading about liberation theology, collecting comic books, and singing nigunim.
Lexi Kohanski (she/her) is The Torah Studio’s Director of Online Learning. In her work as a queer, white Ashkenazi, trans female Jewish educator, Lexi focuses on empowering those of us who have not felt at home in Judaism to own our texts and traditional lifeways. She is currently studying at Yeshivat Maharat; she has also learned at SVARA, the Conservative Yeshiva, Pardes, and Yeshivat Hadar. Lexi’s essay Be Whole: A Halakhic Approach to Gender and Transition was published in the first round of the Trans Halakha Project’s Teshuva Writing Collective.
Noa Baron (they/them) is in love with the vibrant tradition we’ve inherited. They are a radical optimist (as a Jewish practice) who firmly believes in the possibility of a better tomorrow. In their day job, they’re the Social Justice Organizer at the Workers Circle. Noa loves going to their local board game cafe, cooking, and watching cheesy rom-coms.
Ren Finkel (they/them) | Program Coordinator is a multimedia artist, community organizer, and student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. They’re in a long distance relationship with Pittsburgh, where they majored in Photojournalism, first learned about anti-capitalism, and were brought back to Jewish practice. They are deeply committed to healing work and restorative justice.
River (they/it) is a disabled, trans/nonbinary, queer who wants to drink up every drop of queerness from ancient Jewish texts and is excited to see queerness infused into where it’s been lacking. They’re a poet, baker, fiber artist, and cat dad who recently traded it’s lifetime home in central Maine for the oceanless central Texas heat.