First Published on September 2, 2010.
By Rachel Wahba; September 01, 2010
Yes we were; nice Jewish lesbian feminist girls and we made a book. The first one of its kind – decades ago and it is still being used in Women’s Studies classes, to this day! And now, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis is proclaiming acceptance of gay and lesbian Jews.
Ok, so it’s the “love the sinner hate the sin” line perhaps, but for Orthodoxy to come out with a proclamation such as this one, we have something to celebrate. Something IS changing.
Gloria Greenfield was the driving force behind and in front of “Nice Jewish Girls” and with pen and her press (Persephone Press), she made sure we were a force to be seen and heard. Amazing, beautiful and unstoppable, she got us onstage to read our contributions.
We filled an auditorium somewhere in Boston, eight of us, facing a room full of beaming ‘Nice Jewish Girls’ and their non-Jewish lovers and friends. Outside the hall a group of self –proclaimed Preservers of Judaism were yelling at the women going in, and claiming our “Excommunication!”
Growing up a rare Jew in Japan; sent to Catholic missionary school, for lack of choice, I fully understand the idea of excommunication. We also knew Jews cannot be excommunicated!
So the taunts were laughable and we laughed!
The men in the black robes soon left with little impact on the magnificence of the evening and everything we believed it stood for. Our ‘Nice Jewish girl’ faces glowed, as we read our stories aloud – all about being Nice Jewish lesbians- to our non Jewish girlfriends and their friends.
We were so validated by what we had accomplished; the book, the stories, our lives, regardless of black gowned frowns. Unstoppable, our courage and energy took up all the space. There was no place left for the men to go but back to where they came from. Change happens. They may be singing a different tune today. Who knows?
And now the Orthodox Rabbinate have made an important – sensational- statement; Jews must accept all Jews, as a requirement of Torah, rather than rejection as professed by the men in black those decades ago – how nice for us ‘Nice Jewish Girls’ these 2.5 decades later.
Picture:- Left to right: front row: Evelyn Torton Beck,Adrienne Rich, Gloria Greenfield, Melanie Kaye Kantrowitz, Standing, left t o right: Savina Teubal, Josylyn Segal, Rachel Wahba, Irena Klepfisz.