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Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community Paperback – June 1, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This groundbreaking collection addresses transgender and gender identity issues in Jewish law and community from diverse scholarly, religious and personal perspectives. Essays range from autobiographical to academic, including text studies and rituals. While diverse in nature, contributions share an emphasis on the struggle against binary notions and on the exploration of language, identity, and spirituality… I enjoyed the variety of contributions and found myself eager to keep reading… Recommended for academic, synagogue and community libraries.
—Amanda (Miryem-Khaye) Seigel, Librarian, Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library

“An unprecedented volume attending to the challenges and opportunities facing transgendered individuals committed to practicing Judaism… Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, edited by Noach Dzmura, includes contributions from Rachel Biale, Chalotte Elisheva Fonrobert, and Joy Ladin, and ranges from a ‘Ritual for Gender Transition (Male to Female)’ to thoughtful readings of the figure of Androgynos in the Mishnah.”
Tablet Magazine

“An outstanding community of authors join together in Balancing on the Mechitza… Divided into three sections Torah, Avodah, and G’milut Chasadim, each chapter opens with an intelligent introduction guiding the reader into the essays and bridging the topic and Jewish text. The editor’s note to each essay provides a linking thread.”
TCJewfolk

Balancing on the Mechitza ranges widely across denominational lines, carefully including voices from across the spectrum of Jews, and also sex and gender ideologies—giving equal privilege to Reconstructionism and Orthodoxy, to genderqueers and full-medical-model transsexuals. The work is well-chosen, and a deft editor has been at work here—the prose is generally lively without verging into sameness… the balance of the book is also of high quality indeed. Crisp, fresh prose and a gentle humor characterize many of the pieces; both you-are-there stories of interactions with Jewish culture and longer discursive pieces that treat a broader topic.”
—S. Bear Bergman, LambdaLiterary.org

“Overall, the book is enjoyable. … From reconciling Jewish identity as a form of gender, to the Jewish values of humor and debate as methods for accepting difference, it is precisely the Jewishness of the writers’ experiences that mark their stories and make this text worth reading.”
—Rachel E. Silverman, Journal of Jewish Identities

About the Author

Noach Dzmura is an instructor at the Progressive Jewish Alliance. His writings have appeared in  Sh’ma, the Jewish Chronicle (UK), Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, and other publications. The recipient of the Haas-Koshland Award, he lives in Berkeley, CA.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books; First Printing edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556438133
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556438134
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Valérie Fournier on October 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading this as research for a trans jewish character of mine - so far, it has been very helpful. I know little of jewish religion (and I'm trying to change that) and that book has been very enlightening on both that subject and on how can beliefs and transitionning can interract positively.

Were he real, my character would absolutely need to read this book. I recommend it to any trans jewish person or to anyone interest by the interactions of both theses things.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GlobeTrotter on September 6, 2014
Format: Paperback
I had professor dzmura for a class and was told we needed to purchase this. Of course like most students, I'm like really? Another book. I have to say these stories were worth it. The topics mentioned, brought up and illustrated from a different view is amazing. If you're looking to understand the other side, this is a great starting point. Also professor Dzmura is easy to find if you want to ask follow-up questions : )
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Paige on July 8, 2013
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I bought this due to my work and studies; this is an amazing book covering a multitude of Jewish perspectives, from 'transitioning while frum' to a trance-Jewish perspective to details and explanations of traditional custom and law. For those interested in Jewish perspectives, or queer theory/practice, this is vital.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Willemina on March 7, 2013
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As a trans Jew I found this book inspiring and helpful. It educated me about my role in our culture and the roles we can have.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Loraine A. Hutchins on July 19, 2011
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beautiful evocative provocative collection, raises a lot of fascinating issues and tells great stories we all need to hear and know
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