Friday, June 11, 2010

Awesome alert: Trans rabbi Reuben Zellman

Awesome Alerts is a new and hopefully regular quick-hit feature. I have several Google alerts set up to bring me news on some of the marginalized subjects I make an effort to cover here, namely feminism, disability, race, and trans issues. Since we live in a kyriarchy, there's not a lot of good news as a general rule. But oppressed lives are not so necessarily tragic, so I'm going to start making an effort to bring more good news. And thus, Awesome Alerts!

Reuben Zellman, a trans activist since 1999, has been ordained as the first out trans rabbi in the Bay area. He was recently hired at Berkley's Beth El Congregation as an assistant rabbi, where he will tutor b’nai mitzvah students and direct the choir. Zellman has previously worked in disability services, and he writes and teaches on trans and intersex issues. He was the first openly trans person to study at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.

Zellman is the second trans rabbi to be ordained after Elliot Zukla. Both contribute to the awesome website TransTorah. I'll close today with a quote from his 2008 sermon titled "No Longer Strangers", which I think is relevant to not only Jewish communities but feminist discourse:
When it comes to welcoming transgender people into our faith communities, we must say more than: come share this place with me. We must say: come share yourself with me. We must not only make more room at the table; we have to change what’s on the menu. Truly welcoming trans people into our houses of worship means we must all be prepared to think differently, to do differently, to believe differently. We must be ready to be changed, institutionally and personally, by the particular knowledge and gifts that transgender people bring.


  1. That's awesome. I love his quote!

  2. That's really cool, it's always nice to see religion moving in the direction it should be which is toward peace and love.


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