Students will learn about contemporary LGBTQ Jewish hero R. Sandra Lawson, empathize with the experience of feeling like an outsider, and start to dream about their own innovative Jewish practices.
By Essie Shachar-Hill, Keshet
Time: 45 mins
“Today we will be learning about a contemporary Jewish hero. It’s important to learn about Jewish heroes because there are so many extraordinary Jews in our history and present who have made important contributions to the Jewish people and the world at large. It’s also important to learn about lots of different Jewish heroes because it uplifts the fact that the Jewish community is diverse, and there is no one way to be Jewish. Today we are going to learn about Rabbi Sandra Lawson.”
Sandra Lawson is a rabbi, an activist, a public speaker, and musician. She has also been known as the Snapchat Rabbi and featured in the JTA as one of 10 Jews you should follow on Snapchat and The 50 Jews everyone should follow on Twitter. She is a veteran, black lesbian vegan who is ordained through the Reconstructionst Rabbinical College.
Because of the various social identities she holds, Rabbi Lawson says, “I […] live on the margins of our social life, so what that means for me is I see things. I see things that my colleagues may not see. I experience the world as a rabbi very differently than my male colleagues. And I also think that makes me more innovative.” (Source “30 Minutes Elon Fall 2018”)
Depending on the age and experiences of the group, you may need to clarify what is meant by being on the margins of a group.
What does Rabbi Lawson mean when she says her experiences make her more innovative? Let’s find out! Read JTA’s “Sandra Lawson, black lesbian vegan rabbinical student, hopes to redefine where Judaism happens” OR listen to Judaism Unbound’s episode 34 from 23:04-29:56.
After learning about how Rabbi Lawson is innovating her Jewish practice and teaching, think about how YOU would like to creatively practice Judaism.
Using magazines, glue sticks, markers, etc, create a collage, drawing, or map that highlights new ways you would like to see Judaism practiced.
(If students need further prompts, ask: Where and when is this Jewish innovation practiced? What ages would this practice attract? How can you use technology or current trends to practice Judaism? Is this practice in person or online?)
Have students share aloud!