Living a Jewish Life Class

LJL #1- Life Cycles 1 – Birth

First class was really cool! It was apparently a sort of non-traditional start to the class because we had an interesting guest speaker who was available for the first half but not the second. We got into the nitty gritty details of how the class was going to work at the end.

Things of note: There are about 30-40 folks in the class, some carrying over from the fall semester and a bunch new like me. Including myself, there were 5 people who had “they” as one of their pronouns in their zoom name. That’s really exciting for me. I’m not the only nonbinary queer kid in this class. Rabbi Levy was teaching us this week, and she seems really neat. She’s definitely queer friendly and ready to flex things around nonbinary genders. She opened the discussion acknowledging the fact that it would be very binary gendered because the traditions run that way, but that she knows of other ways to format things if that’s what people want. She also talked about Hebrew being a gendered language, but mentioned that there are some people who are working on that as well.

The speaker! She’s a local pediatric surgeon who works in the NICU but also does brit millah procedures and ceremonies for Jews all over Texas. She’s trained as a physician and a mohelet (f. version of mohel.) I’ll probably do some vocab lessons along the way, but I will always always point to other sources for like Learning Things. I’m still super new here. Brit Millah is the ritual circumcision that’s a big part of sealing a child to the covenant with G-d. It is typically done as close to day 8 of life as possible, and involves several important people and many many blessings.

The speaker was cool and had some interesting perspectives on the physical and spiritual aspects, along with some feelings about making sure all the adults in the situation consent to the procedure and that its importance is understood by everyone involved. She talked about some medical reasons to not do circumcision, and Rabbi Levy helped us talk about some of the philosophical questions and alternatives.

Rabbi Levy won’t be teaching us again for awhile because she’s having a baby very soon, so I’ll be meeting and learning from Rabbi Folberg for the next sessions. It will be interesting to see their different teaching styles. I’ll probably pick Rabbi Levy as mt mentor (I have to meet with them at least twice each semester), but might meet with Rabbi Folberg too, if I want to do that sooner than April.

Anyway, that’s update number one! Things are certainly progressing, and I’m excited to get into my reading for class 2.

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