As LGBTQ Jewish people, we have often been put in situations where we need to create our own ways of persevering through tough moments. Surviving and thriving in this world has pushed us to create our own store of unique wisdom about resilience, joy, and community.
Join us for a weekly series of thoughtful conversations with LGBTQ Jews about what sustains us and keeps us hopeful.
Named to the Jewish Week’s 36 under 36 for her innovative leadership concerning the inclusion of Jews with disabilities in all aspects of Jewish life, Rabbi Lauren Tuchman has taught at numerous synagogues and other Jewish venues throughout North America. For this inaugural episode of Keshet’s new, weekly conversation with LGBTQ Jews, Rabbi Tuchman discusses allowing ourselves to celebrate our lives in difficult times and giving ourselves space to learn and grow.
Eric Marcus is the founder and host of the award-winning Making Gay History podcast, which mines his decades-old audio archive of rare interviews — conducted for his oral history book of the same name about the LGBTQ civil rights movement — to create intimate, personal portraits of both known and long-forgotten champions, heroes, and witnesses to history. His other books include Is It A Choice? Why Suicide?, and Breaking the Surface, the #1 New York Times bestselling autobiography of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis. Eric is also co-producer of Those Who Were There, a podcast drawn from Yale University’s Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. And he is the founder and chair of the Stonewall 50 Consortium, an organization that brings together 235 nonprofit institutions and organizations committed to producing programming, exhibitions, and educational materials related to LGBTQ history and culture.
Noam Sienna is a Jewish educator, artist, and doctoral candidate in History at the University of Minnesota. He has published on Jewish cultural heritage in scholarly and popular journals, and has taught in academic and community venues around the world. He is the editor of A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969, published by Print-O-Craft in 2019.
Koach Baruch Frazier is an audiologist, musician, co-convener of the Tzedek Lab, and a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. A collaborative leader, rooted in tradition, curiosity and love, Koach strives to dismantle racism, actualize liberation and transform lives both sonically and spiritually. Koach lives with his wife, LaJuana in Philadelphia.
Talia Johnson is a Jewish ritual and service leader, writer, poet, sensitivity editor, public speaker, workshop facilitator, educator, mentor, coach, and activist. She is a woman who is, in no particular order, an out queer autistic lesbian trans woman. Talia is Chair of the Board of Directors for Heartspark Press, a press run by and for trans women and assigned male at birth non-binary folk. She is part of the leadership team of Autistics for Autistics Ontario. She is co-editor of the Nothing Without Us anthology of own voices Disability fiction released in September 2019. Talia is the first transgender woman to be ordained a Kohenet (Hebrew priestess) through the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute receiving smicha in August 2019. Her full priestess title is Kohenet Talia C. Johnson, Shomeret ha Tzitzit (Guardian of the Fringes). Talia’s work as a Kohenet is directly related to her experience as a transgender woman and her academic studies. Her focus is on Judaism, queer/trans/LGBTQIA, and mental health. Her work in these areas bridge mental health, spirituality, and LGBTQIA+/queer/trans spaces, areas which are usually independent silos. In January 2016 Talia was awarded a full scholarship to attend WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) Professional Training. She has been an activist in various ways for most of her life. Her first words were, apparently, “That’s not fair!”
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie is the Founding Spiritual Leader of Lab/Shul NYC and the creator of Storahtelling, Inc. An Israeli-born Jewish educator, writer, and performance artist, he received his rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2016.Rabbi Amichai is a member of the Global Justice Fellowship of the American Jewish World Service, a founding member of the Jewish Emergent Network, and serves on the faculty of the Reboot Network. Since 2018 he has served on the Advisory Council of the International School for Peace – a Refugee Support Project in Greece. Rabbi Amichai has been hailed as “an iconoclastic mystic” by Time Out New York, a “rock star” by the New York Times, a “Judaic Pied Piper” by the Denver Westword, a “maverick spiritual leader” by The Times of Israel and “one of the most interesting thinkers in the Jewish world” by the Jewish Week. In 2016 The Forward named him one of the thirty-two “Most Inspiring Rabbis” in America, and in 2017 he was top five on “The Forward 50,” their annual list of the most influential and accomplished Jews in America.In June 2017 Rabbi Amichai published the JOY Proposal, offering a new response to the reality of Intermarriage and taking on a personal position on this issue, including his resignation from the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement. Amichai is Abba to Alice, Ezra and Charlotte.
Kate Bornstein is a performance artist and playwright who has authored several award-winning books, including Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and The Rest of Us, My Gender Workbook, and Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws. She has earned two citations of honor from the New York City Council and garnered praise from civil rights groups around the globe. Kate lives in New York City with her girlfriend, three cats, two dogs, and a turtle.
Rachel Masonis a Los Angeles-based multi-media artist, director, and musician. Her first feature film, The Lives of Hamilton Fish, was a historical fantasy that toured internationally as a live performed concert. Mason most recently directed the Netflix Original Documentary Circus of Books, Executive Produced by Ryan Murphy. The film details her own biographical story, growing up the child of pornographers at the center of the gay community. She also wrote and recorded the film’s end credit song, “Give You Everything.” In 2019, Rachel Mason was featured as one of Indiewire’s “25 LGBTQ Filmmakers on the Rise.”
Darren Sukonick is a lawyer and former partner at Torys LLP who shifted to a new career as a principal at Matthew Sapera Fine Homes, a design/build/development company based in Toronto, Canada. Darren is an active community leader: he serves on the board of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and its LGBTQ task force and has held various senior roles in UJA’s annual fundraising campaign; participated in Jewish Federation of North America’s (JFNA’s) National Young Leadership Cabinet program and is one of the Toronto representatives to the JFNA Board of Trustees; is a Toronto co-chair of the Canadian Friends of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; is a board member and Vice-President, Membership at Holy Blossom Temple of Toronto; and is the President of Congregation Shirat HaYam, a pluralistic congregation in Nantucket, MA. Darren lives with his husband Matthew in Toronto.