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Reconciling queerness with religion has always been an enormous challenge. When the religion is Orthodox Judaism, the task is even more daunting. This anthology takes on that challenge by giving voice to genderqueer Jewish women who were once silenced–and effectively rendered invisible–by their faith. Keep Your Wives Away from Them tells the story of those who have come out, who are still closeted, living double lives, or struggling to maintain an integrated “single life” in relationship to traditional Judaism–personal stories that are both enlightening and edifying. While a number of films and books have explored the lives of queer people in Orthodox and observant Judaism, only this one explores in depth what happens after the struggle, when the real work of building integrated lives begins. The candor of these insightful stories in Keep Your Wives Away from Them makes the book appealing to students of women’s, gender, and LGBTQ studies, as well as for anyone struggling personally with the same issue. Contributors include musician and writer Temim Fruchter, Professor Joy Ladin, writer Leah Lax, nurse Tamar Prager, and the pseudonymous Ex-Yeshiva Girl.
“Jews with unconventional identities should not have to wrestle alone at the intersection where their tradition seems to clash with their integrity as loving human beings. Like Moses responding to the travail of his brothers (Ex. 2:11), a caring halachic Jewish community should respond seriously to the heartfelt appeal of our contemporary sisters.”
—Rabbi Dr. Tzvi C. Marx, author of Disability in Jewish Law
“Moving. Challenging. Frustrating. Exhilarating. Important reading for all, indispensible for some. This book will save lives and heal souls, and it is sure to be banned in some circles because of that.”
—Shaul Kelner, assistant professor of sociology and Jewish studies, Vanderbilt University, and author of Tours that Bind: Diaspora, Pilgrimage, and Israeli Birthright Tourism
“Each powerful essay challenges my preconceptions about the nature of religious lives and communities, about gendered selves, and about the delights and constraints of Orthodox Judaism. Keep Your Wives Away from Them is a complex spirit journey that speaks of the longing for love and the search for comforting and comfortable identities.”
—Vanessa L. Ochs, associate professor of religious studies University of Virginia, and author of Inventing Jewish Ritual
“At last the Jewish feminist bookshelf will include the reflections of Orthodox LBTQ women, and what reflections they are! Lyrical, honest, painful, smart, triumphant, and powerful, this book invites all of us into the richness and complexity of Orthodox LBTQ life and should be read by anyone who cares about Judaism and Jewish life, as well as religion and sexuality.”
—Riv-Ellen Prell, professor of American studies, University of Minnesota, and editor of Women Remaking American Judaism