Ritual Reconstructed: Challenges to Disconnection, Division and Exclusion in the Jewish LGBTQI Community


Principal Investigator: Dr Margaret Greenfields
Co-investigators: Surat Shaan Knan Rathgeber, Dr EJ Milne, Searle Kochberg
Duration: From 2014 to 2015

This collaborative project, led by Bucks New University and undertaken in partnership with Liberal Judaism/Rainbow Jews; the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University and the University of Portsmouth consists of an exploration of the interplay between faith identity and sexual orientation as mediating or disrupting factors for London and South-East England based Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) Jews. The core aim of this 14-month project is to collaborate with members of the LGBTQI Jewish community to explore and address issues of disconnection, exclusion and reconnection with Judaism through ritual performance, film and community engagement activities. Activities will focus on facilitating and co-producing reflections on LGBTQI (re)appropriation of Jewish ritual by engaging with LGBTQI participants, rabbis and theologians throughout a full ritual cycle (year) to explore the ways in which ritual practices are embedded in spiritual, social and community life and the inter-play between the development of annual, weekly and personal ritual which incorporate LGBTQI and Jewish identity. Outputs will include downloadable film ‘chapters’ in which ritual activities (e.g. Passover, Chanukah, etc.) are enacted; audio recordings of participants speaking about the importance of reclaiming their heritage and blended identities; images of personally meaningful ritual objects (‘ritual bricollage’) curated by respondents; and theological interpretations of liturgy and scripture pertaining to sexuality and Jewish identities.