Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Brit Min Hadash--No, this isn't a joke

From New Jersey Jewish News:
Leslie Farber will mark her 50th birthday with a new Hebrew name — and a new Jewish ritual at the frontiers of gender identity.
Don't you like that phrase, "the frontiers of gender identity"? It suggests that new gender identities are being developed all the time and that we now have achieved the most advanced gender identities in history.
Farber is a transgender female, a personal injury attorney with the given Hebrew name of Eliezer Zechariah who only recently began defining herself as a woman.

Farber’s friends will gather to formally welcome her into their midst as a woman with a brit min hadash, a ritual naming ceremony created for the occasion.
"Min Hadash" could also mean "new species." ("Can you do a budgie job on a terrier straight away?")
The Montclair resident and member of the Montclair Reconstructionist synagogue B’nai Keshet will take the Hebrew name Aliza. The former Larry adopted her English name legally in July 2004.
When these ceremonies are described, why do they always sound like parodies?
[T]he ceremony is likely to include a minyan of 10 women offering readings, including those referring to the biblical figure of Miriam, and a candle lighting and Kiddush. In addition, Farber will sit in a “Miriam’s chair,” and guests will be served eggs, a symbol of life and womanhood. Throughout the ceremony, liturgy will be recited using feminine forms of address — for example, instead of the traditional blessing formula of “Baruch ata…’, the participants will say “Brucha at.”
Oh well, at least they aren't using a "Vashti's chair" or a "Lilith's chair."

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