From HIV AIDS Epidemic to Pride Shabbat
Liturgical & Cultural Transformations in Progressive Judaism
A conversation between Elazar Ben Lulu & Deborah Megdal
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.
Webinar Via Zoom (Link to be sent out 1-2 days prior to the event)
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When the AIDS epidemic hit the United States, the American Reform Jewish community was the only formal Jewish institution to respond, advocating an open discussion about congregants who lived with HIV or had AIDS. In 1985 the General Assembly of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) passed a historic resolution calling to abolish discrimination against HIV positive people. Elazar Ben Lulu and Deborah Megdal will discuss liturgical and cultural transformations that arose from the HIV/AIDS crisis and from the new needs for personal and social mourning and that resulted in the recognition and inclusion of the American gay Jewish community, and had lasting effects, such as the creation of LGBTQ congregations, Pride Shabbat celebrations, and more.
Elazar Ben Lulu holds a Ph.D. in Social & Cultural Anthropology. As an anthropologist of religion and gender, he is particularly interested in the intersection of LGBTQ identities and Judaism. His Ph.D. dissertation examines religious rituals in Israeli Reform Jewish congregations and demonstrates how rituals become political performances that affirm and empower gender and sexual minorities previously excluded from Jewish liturgy and hence the Jewish community. He is the recipient of the Salo Baron New Voices in Jewish Studies Award from the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, Columbia University and Fordham University’s Center for Jewish Studies. He is currently, a postdoctoral fellow at Azrieli Center for Israel Studies at The Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Deborah Megdal holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was Managing Editor of the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism and worked on an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit in the case that legalized same-sex marriage in California (which became Hollingsworth v. Perry before the U.S. Supreme Court). She also worked in impact litigation at Lambda Legal; researched gender in the military; and in family law, helped low-income clients struggling with issues of domestic violence and child custody. She is currently a rising fifth-year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and the Senior Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), which was founded in 1973, and welcomes gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, queer and straight individuals and families who share common values.
Fordham Jewish Studies