Request: Readings on Judaism and sexuality - specific topics

Justin Jaron Lewis's picture

For an undergraduate course with a focus on Judaism and sexuality (broadly defined), I am looking for articles (preferably from peer-reviewed journals), or book chapters, on the following current issues, from Jewish perspectives or with a Jewish focus:

- gender fluidity / gender diversity / the "pronouns" issue

- sexual harassment

- online sex e.g. sexting, catfishing

- pornography (I do have Jonathan Crane's 2010 article "Judaic Perspectives on Pornography")

- robot sex

- BDSM as spiritual practice

Thank you for any suggestions.


Justin Jaron Lewis

Department of Religion, University of Manitoba

Hi Justin,

You might want to check out my book The Passing Game: Queering Jewish American Culture which deals with some of these topics albeit in an earlier time frame. Also, I think there's an article in the book Queer Jews and a short story in Kosher Meat (yes, the title is horrible) that talks about BDSM as spiritual practice.

Warren Hoffman

For the request of Justin Jaron Lewis who is looking for articles or book chapters on Judaism and sexuality - for certain specific topics:

A. In general, many basic questions (not the new ones of course) in this field can be answered in taking a close look in this old good book: Louis M. Epstein, Sex Laws and Customs in Judaism, New York 1948.

B. For: Gender fluidity / gender diversity / the "pronouns" issue - see:

1. Michael L. Satlow, “They Abused Him like a Woman": Homoeroticism, Gender Blurring, and the Rabbis in Late Antiquity, Journal of the History of Sexuality, 5:1 (1994), pp. 1-25.

2. Ra'anan Abush, 'Eunuchs and Gender Transformation: Philo's Exegesis of the Joseph Narrative, in Eunuchs in Antiquity and Beyond (ed. Shaun Tougher; London: Duckworth, 2002), 103–121.

3. Gwynn Kessler, Let's Cross That Body When We Get to It: Gender and Ethnicity in Rabbinic Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 73, No. 2 (Jun., 2005), pp. 329-359.

4. Rachel Adelman, “Passing Strange – Gender Crossing in the Story of Joseph and Esther,” in her book: The Female Ruse (Sheffield) pp. 198-230.

5. Elliot Wolfson, “On Becoming Female: Crossing Gender Boundaries in Kabbalistic Ritual and Myth.” In: Gender and Judaism, edited by t. M. Rudavsky, pp. 209–28.

6. J. David Bleich, Transsexual Surgery, in JEWISH BIOETHICS 209–14 (Fred Rosner & J. David Bleich eds., 1989); Appendix: Sex Change Operations and Their Effect on Marital Status: A Brief Comparison, JEWISH LAW,

7. Gunther Plaut and others, Conversion and marriage after transsexual surgery, in: Teshuvot for the Nineties: Reform Judaism's Answers to Today's Dilemmas by Central Conference of American Rabbis, p. 191 ff.

8. See the sources which were mentioned here by Uri Cohen:

9. And See my piece in Haartz in English here:

C. sexual harassment – see:

1. Katherine B. Low, The Sexual Abuse of Lot's Daughters: Reconceptualizing Kinship for the Sake of Our Daughters, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Fall 2010), pp. 37-54.

2. Judith Hauptman, Rereading the Rabbis: A Woman's Voice [Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998], in the general index p. 273: Child abuse.

3. Yehuda Brandes, Yahadut uZechuyot Adam, p. 152 n. 190 on sexual harassment.

For the rest: You might find a suggestion for a general Jewish attitude toward those new questions in my discussion in: Gender and Dialogue in the Rabbinic Prism, De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, pp. 154-213.

Admiel Kosman
Potsdam University

Readings on sexuality and Judaism, especially queer and trans(gender) identity and Judaism, that may be of interest:

Alpert, Rebecca T. Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

Alpert, Rebecca T., Sue Levi Elwell, and Shirley Idelson. Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2001.

Aviv, Caryn, Gregg Drinkwater, and David Shneer, “We Are You: An Exploration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Colorado's Jewish Community.” Denver: Jewish Mosaic, 2006. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Biale, David. Eros and the Jews. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Borstein, Kate and S. Bear Bergman. Ed. Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation.
Berkeley: Seal Press, 2010.

Boyarin, Daniel. “Are There Any Jews in ‘the History of Sexuality’,” Journal of the
History of Sexuality, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 333-355, 1995.

---. Unheroic Conduct: The Rise of Heterosexuality and the Invention of the Jewish Man. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Boyarin, Daniel, Daniel Itzkovitz, and Ann Pellegrini. Queer Theory and the Jewish Question. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Crasnow, S.J. "On Transition: Normative Judaism and Trans Innovation." Journal of Contemporary Religion, 32:3, 403-415.

Dzmura, Noach. Ed. Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2010.

Greenberg, Steven. Wrestling with God and Men. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

Sacred Encounter: Jewish Perspectives on Sexuality. Ed. Rabbi Lisa J. Grushcow. New York: CCAR Press, 2014.

Kabakov, Miriam. Keep Your Wives Away from Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2010

Mushkat, Danita. “Alienated Jews: What About Outreach to Jewish Lesbians?” Journal of Jewish Communal Service Vol. 75 No. 4 (1999): 239-247

The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism, 116-135. New York: NYU Press, 2009

Plaskow, Judith. The Coming of Lillith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics, 1972-2003. Boston: Beacon Press, 2005.

Ruttenberg, Rabbi Danya. “Blood Simple: Transgender Theory Hits the Mikveh.” Ed. Danya Ruttenberg. Yentl’s Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism. Seattle: Seal Press, 2001.

Schnoor, Randal F. “Being Gay and Jewish: Negotiating Intersecting Identities” Sociology of Religion, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Spring, 2006): 43-60

Shneer, David and Caryn Aviv. Queer Jews. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Shokeid, Moshe. A Gay Synagogue in New York. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 2003.

Shulman, Sarah. Israel/Palestine and the Queer International. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2012.

Stahlberg, Lesleigh Cushing. “Modern Day Moabites: The Bible and the Debate About Same-Sex Marriage”, Biblical Interpretation 16, pp. 442-475, 2008.

Zeveloff, Naomi. Ed. Transgender and Jewish. New York: The Forward Association, 2014.

Re readings on Judaism and sexuality, the following article should also be of interest:

Hillel Gray, "The Transitioning of Jewish Biomedical Law: Rhetorical and Practical Shifts in Halakhic Discourse on Sex-Change Surgery," Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies and Gender Issues, 29 (Spring 2015), pp. 81-107.

Deborah Greniman
Managing Editor, NASHIM