Teshuva-Writing Collective

The Trans Halakha Project’s Teshuva-Writing Collective is a team of 12 trans writers and researchers who have authored teshuvot that use the language of halakha to respond to questions about Jewish life and practice that emerge directly from trans people.

We are overjoyed to present the first iteration of our work together. By clicking the titles below, you can view each teshuva in the embedded window or with a screenreader.

Three chevruta sit over a table covered in Talmuds, Jastrows, and more books.

2023 Teshuvot

Meet the Teshuva Writing Collective 2024 Cohort

Alyx Bernstein (she/her), born and raised in London (and a proud adopted New Yorker), is a Program Associate at The Jewish Education Project, where she supports Jewish educators in building innovative, content rich Jewish educational experiences. She graduated from Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary with degrees in Comparative Literature and Talmud and Rabbinics, which means that her living space is mostly made up of books. During her time in college, she had the pleasure of interning at SVARA and participating in the first cohort of the Teshuva Writing Collective. Alyx is a facilitator of Keshet’s Youth Shabbatonim, an alumna of Yeshivat Hadar, and a writer whose work appears in New Voices Magazine, the anthology Salt And Honey, the Columbia Current, and elsewhere. For her work for transgender liberation in the Jewish community, Alyx has been named as one of the Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 and received Keshet’s Hachamat Lev award. Outside of her work and learning, she enjoys good iced coffee, fantasy epics, and feel-good comedy TV shows.

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.

Azariah Betzalel (they/them/theirs) is a Jewish queer and anarchist who is strengthened in their pursuit of abolition through chavruta and crafting. They live in the American Midwest where they are building a disability friendly home, planting a food forest, and dreaming of a future beyond their imagining.

Jamie Weisbach (he/him) believes in the power of Torah and good vegan food to change the world. Originally from Chicago, he studied Theater, English, and Religion at Bowdoin College and Torah, Talmud, and Halakhah at SVARA and the Hadar Institute. He is currently studying for rabbinic ordination as a member of Hadar’s advanced kollel. Jamie lives in New York City with his husband, Amram; their two cats, Perle and Herschel; and their ever-growing collection of books.

Kendra Saperstein (they/them) is a connector of people and seeks to be a truth-teller and generous human. Through their love of our people, Kendra works to strengthen the relationships of Jews of Color across the Midwest and beyond, by weaving the past, present and future Toraitic tissue between and through us. Kendra’s deep insight, quick wit and compassionate accountability is a gift to the beit midrash anywhere, but especially the Kollel. A Detroiter in diaspora, they currently live in Philadelphia where they are studying to become a rabbi and nourishing all of us through their liberatory Torah and lots of potlucks. (This bio was lovingly prepared by their chevruta, Koach.)

Miriam ‘Mim’ Kunin (zie/hir, it/its, they/them, she/her) is a queer talmud nerd from the North of England, currently living and working in Oxford. Mim has studied at Drisha, Hadar, Pardes, the Conservative Yeshiva and Yashrut, and is a longtime devotee of Limmud UK. Mim is fascinated by authority and agency in halakhah, and as such is honoured and delighted to be a part of the trans halakhah project, through which zie expects to become even more preoccupied with them. In hir spare time, Mim can be found swimming in rivers, learning languages or having long conversations about religion and/or disability. Zie loves torah, folksongs, and being upside down.

Reuben Yolen (he/him/his): After five years as a baker and then a brief stint in boat-building school, I was drawn to Torah and observance in a search for the meaning to my Judaism. My hope is that I can play a small role in helping others feel at home in their tradition and empower them to add their voices to the conversation. When not studying Torah or teaching myself to skateboard, I’m starting a Jewish farm and beit midrash (im yirtzeh hashem) in upstate New York.

Rivka Nechemya (any pronouns) is in hir first year at the rabbinical school at Hebrew College. Ze lives on traditional Massachusett, Pawtucket, and Naumkeag land, also known as Cambridge, MA, in a cozy apartment filled with energy by his cat, Chickpea. Rivka Nechemya enjoys the crunch of falling autumn leaves, the squeak of hir clarinet, and the experience of dancing. Learning the past round of TWC halachos with friends has been a joy in his life over the past several months, and ze is enthusiastic about joining the next cohort of the TWC.

Sivan Piatigorsky-Roth (any pronouns) is a cartoonist and a third year rabbinical student. They are excited to be continuing a journey of learning and celebrating Torah, tradition, and community.

Sophie MacDonald (she/her) is one of many Canadians who have moved to Vancouver, BC from a birthplace somewhere in Ontario or Québec and may be called back east in the fullness of time. The Jewish texts closest to her heart are Sephardic siddurim and the Or HaChaim’s Torah commentary. Though she did not instinctively feel drawn to Talmud study, she has come to value Talmud deeply as the bridge from Sinai to contemporary halakha. In turns, what she loves in halakha is its compassionate, attentive power to center the unfolding of Torah around real concerns in the lives of queer Jews.

Rabbi Xava De Cordova (she/her) is a disabled, Sefradi, Mizraxi trans woman and co-host of the world’s first Queer Talmud podcast, “”Xai, how are you?””. She is a long-time SVARA-style Talmud learner and SVARA teaching kollel fellow who got her start as a teacher by creating Beit Midrash Behind Bars, an organization that facilitated Jewish learning opportunities for incarcerated people in Washington State. She is also the co-founder of Shel Maala, an online-first queer yeshiva , which she co-founded with SVARA fellow Binya Koatz. She lives in Providence, RI, where she regularly produces Jewish ritual theatre (or did, before the pandemic) and does her best to steward the radical tradition she’s been blessed to inherit.