Judaism is many things – and also means different things to different Jews and different Jewish denominations. I’ve written a book called Trouble-Making Judaism, which will be published by David Paul Books on February 1st. I’ve given my book that title because in my view, from the prophets who admonished the leaders and people of Israel for their ethical misconduct through to the rabbis who troubled the Torah to make meaning for Jewish life, Judaism has been engaged with troubling and trouble making. Trouble-making is about challenging and disrupting the status quo. It is also about being troubled and troubling our Jewish texts and inheritance to adapt and change in response to the lives of Jewish individuals, families and communities here and now.
The book falls into four parts. Beginning with an exploration of some trouble-making precedents – the Torah’s account of the creation humanity, Miriam, the 2nd century scholar, B’ruria, and the first woman rabbi, Regina Jonas – I go on to explore the struggle for equality and inclusion, ways of engaging as Jews and Jewish communities to foster Jewish life today, and the challenge to acknowledge, both, Israel and Palestine.
Trouble-making, being troubled and troubling our Jewish inheritance involves engaging with our Jewish teachings and narratives. It involves living Jewishly with pride and commitment in today’s world. It involves taking issues and concerns which have been pushed to the periphery because they are so difficult and making them the centre of our concerns. It involves celebrating family life in all its diverse expressions today and making space for those who are single, childless and childfree. It involves acknowledging and affirming heterosexual people and relationships and lesbian and gay people and relationships – as well as those who are bisexual and/or transgender. It involves welcoming those who are Jewish in different ways and those who are Jew-ish, as well as non-Jews. It involves taking steps to ensure that our congregations welcome all those who wish to participate and celebrate the myriad gifts which people bring.
If you’re interested in knowing more about what I mean by ‘Trouble-Making Judaism’, and missed my recent session at Limmud, I will be talking about the book, and signing copies, at Jewish Book Week on Sunday, February 19th at 3:30 PM. I also hope to have a book launch in Brighton and Hove – so watch this space for details.
Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah
Trouble-Making Judaism by Elli Tikvah Sarah (ISBN 09780954848293. Paper-back. £9.99. David Paul Books – www.davidpaulbooks). Twitter@BHPS2011. FB & Twitter info @RabbiElliSarah