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Rabbi daniel cohen on dating and marriage
Gabriel Webber is a first-year student at London’s Leo Baeck College, a rabbinical school associated with the Liberal movement, a partner under the worldwide Reform umbrella.As part of his research ahead of the ceremony, he came across examples of ceremonies for non-binary children in the United States but not in the United Kingdom.
Though immediate friends and family were respectful of Esther’s gender identity, others gave “bat mitzvah” cards and gifts geared toward girls, Miriam Thorpe said.
“It was quite easy to make the service be reflective of [Esther being] non-binary, once you have a rabbi that’s on board with it and you have a congregation that’s prepared to take that through,” she said, “and as soon as you left the service you’re back to it’s either a bar mitzvah or a bat mitzvah and there’s nothing in between.” Still, Esther is happy about how things turned out. “I feel part of a community, accepted and acknowledged.”The phrase "traditional two genders that we happen to have just because of history" is one of the stupidest utterances ever to come out of an ostensibly-human mouth.
The city’s Jewish history is mainly known for a 12th-century anti-Semitic massacre in which all the Jewish residents were killed.
Despite the adaptations, there were still some lingering issues.
Esther’s mother already had a child come out as gay and feared that Esther, 14, would have trouble finding a Jewish community that would be accepting and inclusive.
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The family was already planning for Esther’s bat mitzvah, but with the new revelation, Miriam wondered how her child could be comfortable taking part in a Jewish ceremony whose very name — bar mitzvah for boys and bat mitzvah for girls — is gendered.“I was quite concerned because if something is important in your coming of age, it should reflect who you are in a person and not squeeze you into the traditional two genders that we happen to have just because of history,” Miriam, who lives with her husband, Martyn, and seven children in the village of Otterburn, in northeast England, told JTA.As transgender and gender nonconforming people gain more acceptance, synagogues are having to think about how to welcome those with a diverse set of gender identities.“A real frontier for the work that Keshet does these days is around gender identity and gender diversity, a lot around transgender inclusion and making sure non-binary and trans youth are included,” Bell told JTA.The Union for Reform Judaism — the congregational arm of the movement in the United States — has a toolkit for synagogues that includes a section on how to tailor b’nei mitzvah ceremonies to align with the child’s gender identity, said Rabbi Leora Kaye, director of program.Statistics about gender identity in children are hard to come by, but a University of Minnesota study published last year found that 2.7 percent of children in the state identify as transgender or gender nonconforming.Catherine Bell, senior director of program and leadership at Keshet, a Massachusetts-based group that promotes LGBTQ equality, said the organization gets requests on how to make religious ceremonies inclusive of different gender identities.Traditionally, readers are called up using their first name in Hebrew followed by “ben” or “bat” (son or daughter) and their parent’s or parents’ names.Finding the right way to be called up to the Torah held a major significance for Esther.Afterward there was a celebration with food, ice cream, popcorn machines and doughnuts, as the rite fell during Hanukkah.The event was significant not only because it may have been the country’s first gender-neutral b’nei mitzvah but also because it was York’s first bar, bat or b’nei mitzvah ceremony in over 50 years.