Near the end of the Passover seder, as we open the door to welcome Elijah the prophet, we recite the shefokh khamatkha, Pour Out Your Wrath: a prayer in which we request that G-d’s divine vengeance be poured upon those who persecute us. It is a challenging text. And yet, it is only through radically embracing wrath that we can understand ourselves and each other.
As queer and trans Jewish youth of color, our relationship with rage is… complicated. For many of us, our belonging in Jewish spaces is contingent upon our ability to be “respectable,” making it difficult to express anger without facing racialized responses. Even within our own communities, cultural pushes for assimilation can make anger seem like a deterrent to our community’s greater good.
Despite its unwelcome presence in many of our communities, we know that wrath pushes us toward liberatory action. It is vital for our communities to acknowledge and make space for it.
Rage is a tool for liberation. Below are reflections and discussion questions to integrate into your Passover Seder. We hope that these provide an opportunity to reflect on contemporary persecution and imagine a better world.
Recite and discuss the questions below. Then, read the answers from Queer and Trans Jewish Youth of Color (QTJYOC) while discussing your own.
1. What fills you with rage, and what does it feel like as it moves through your body?
microaggressions / ableism / racism / having to constantly justify my presence in spaces / my identities not being believed / racism in Jewish spaces / anti-trans legislation / not feeling belonging in the communities i belong to.
Rage sometimes feels scary / difficult / frightening / exciting / good to release
2. What does your rage teach you?
If I want to honor any of my feelings, I must honor them all. My rage reminds me that I am complex, and I have to honor that complexity. / My rage reminds me of my convictions and shows what truly matters to me. / My rage moves me to think deeper about myself, to analyze and look at why I feel the way I do.
3. What is Jewish about rage?
So much of our history and practice is about questioning and learning. In order to question and learn, we have to look at what enrages us / From a historical standpoint, Jewish people have a long history of being vulnerable, and it only makes sense that our history and our liberation have a strong relationship with rage. / It’s very Jewish to allow yourself to feel and to question what exists. / So much of my relationship with Judaism is related to my belief in justice, and I view rage as a vital part of reckoning with the world we want to build.
4. How can you transform your rage?
When I feel myself fill with rage, I first take some time to rest and take care of myself. That way, I can emerge from my rage feeling better equipped to be honest and take action. / When I feel rage, my first step is to get out of it. I want to embrace the space between rage and neutrality as a chance to both identify what I believe in and act with the balance necessary to treating others with compassion. / My rage is a tool for imagining, an opportunity to fight for myself without the self-consciousness I usually feel.
5. What do you want for the future of QTJYOC? (for those who are not QTJYOC – what do you want for the future of your communities and the intersections between them?)
I want people to know that we exist. Our identities are not mutually exclusive. / I want QTJYOC to have people in their lives that believe in them. / I want our communities to have more deep conversations. / I want people to see us for all of the intersections we contain, rather than being reduced to specific aspects of who we are. / I want QTYOC to know that a beautiful future of liberation is possible, and that we know that from seeing each other.
Read the following responses:
I will honor my anger and let it move through me.
I will use my rage as a chance to imagine what is possible.
I will recognize my wrath as evidence that I am complex – and this complexity deserves to be honored.
This resource is a collaboration with Keshet and JYCA’s Jews Against Marginalization (JAM) program, dedicated to supporting and uplifting Jewish Youth of Color (JYOC). We are proud to partner to highlight Queer & Trans JYOC stories, perspectives, and experiences.