“RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO!”— Safe Sex During the Aids Epidemic



Safe Sex During the Aids Epidemic

Amos Lassen

“Raw! Uncut! Video!” is a new documentary about inventing safe sex during the AIDS epidemic and the gay fetish porn studio Palm Drive Video which was created by leathermen Jack Fritscher and Mark Hemry during the 1980s home video revolution. It was a homegrown mail-order company that expanded the boundaries of sexual experimentation and promoted kink as an integral form of safe sex during the height of the AIDS epidemic.


“As AIDS devastated queer communities, a pervasive fear of sexual activity overtook American culture – and drove many LGBTQ folks back into the ‘closet’. Because fetish does not require an exchange of bodily fluids, Palm Drive Video was founded as a safe-sex service that offered viewers new sexual possibilities in an age of plague. Using rugged men hand-picked from small-town bars, rodeos, county fairgrounds, body-building contests, construction sites and back alleys, the studio focused on a diversity of all-male fetish scenarios – from extreme BDSM to mud worship, medical torture, and leather cowboys. With unlimited access to the Fritscher-Hemry archive, intimate observational footage of Jack and Mark today, and interviews with other legendary experts on gay fetish, RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO! reconstructs an erotic underground of hot men and wild sex that paved the way for sex-positive activism and a proliferation of LGBTQ community-building around niche sexualities.” www.rawuncutvideo.com/ @rawuncutvideo_

However the movie cannot be finished without some help if you can.

“Why We Need Your Help:

Our project looks beyond the lurid sensationalism often associated with ‘adult films’ to examine the powerful and positive impacts that fetish pornography has historically had for LGBTQ communities. Nevertheless, fetish and pornography are still taboo for many people and there are persistent stigmas around both alternative sexualities and ‘adult’ entertainment. Most traditional funders of independent documentary hear the description “a film about gay fetish porn” and run away as fast as they can! Thus, raising the budget necessary to complete RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO! has presented our producing team with many challenges. After three years, we are finished with production and are now editing the film. To date the majority of funding for the project has come from our own pockets and from the generosity of individuals who are interested in seeing this documentary get made. Editing and post-production is one of the priciest and most time-consuming phases of any documentary and, while we continue to apply for grants, we are still in need of community support to finish the film.


How Your Contribution Will Be Used:

We currently have a rough feature-length assembly of the documentary. Funds raised via our crowd-funding will enable us to hire a professional Editor to finesse and complete the film. Additional funds will be allocated to other critical post-production costs such as hiring a composer, sound mixing, and color grading. We are so close to completing the project and we need your help! Please consider contributing – any amount, large or small, gets us closer to the finish line.”

“Director’s Statement:

AIDS continues to pose a massive health threat around the globe, and understanding the diversity of tactics that communities in the Global North used to battle the epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s remains critical in sustaining efforts to control the disease. Media outlets have reported extensively on the role of governments and activists in promoting safe-sex practices to help combat the transmission of AIDS. But, on top of completely devastating communities, AIDS also brought with it a pervasive fear of sexual activity that drove many LGBTQ people back into the ‘closet’. There has been scant mainstream coverage of efforts to mitigate infection by underground fetish and porn communities through the promotion of sex-positivity and alternative safe-sex practices. We are inspired to create RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO! to explore the historic significance of gay fetish porn during the height of the AIDS crisis in the U.S., to trace the dedicated efforts of two leathermen (Fritscher and Hemry) to produce erotica that allowed queer men to safely explore their sexual boundaries in an age of plague, and to resurrect an assortment of wild characters who shared their own sexual kinks onscreen to help diminish the many impacts of AIDS.

Our approach to RAW! UNCUT! VIDEO! is to use archival-focused storytelling to provide a fresh and contemporary exploration of a little-known form of AIDS activism. Current footage and interviews introduce our primary characters and highlight Palm Drive’s efforts to produce safe-sex videos that would appeal to a diversity of kinky queers. Although, our story truly comes alive through Palm Drive films and behind-the-scenes material that is edited to create ‘observational’ sequences that immerse the viewer in the vintage world of Palm Drive Video productions. Throughout the film, our characters’ serious drive for activism and sexual exploration is countered by their constant sense of humor, the uniqueness of the experimental fetish scenarios that are explored, and the infectious enthusiasm of the Palm Drive stars to push their outrageous sexual limits for a greater good.

Ultimately, we hope that the film reveals the complexities of historic efforts to combat AIDS in the U.S., and in so doing, expand the discussion on best practices to continue fighting the epidemic around the world. At the same time, we hope to cast light on the importance of embracing non-normative sexualities and overcoming moralistic frameworks that only accept human sexuality in extremely limited terms.”


The characters include:

Jack Fritscher is director and co-founder of Palm Drive Video. Former Editor-in-Chief of the influential Drummer Magazine and one-time lover of Robert Mapplethorpe, he is a prolific writer and a living legend in the gay leather scene.

Mark Hemry is editor and co-founder of Palm Drive Video. Partnered with Jack Fritscher for 40 years, he was the technical backbone of the porn studio while also maintaining a career as a scientist for a federal government agency.

“Thrasher” (Steve Thrasher) is a Palm Drive superstar – and a heterosexual man. As a young handyman on the Fritscher-Hemry ranch, he perfectly fit the blue-collar aesthetic that Jack and Mark were looking for and was cast in some of their most iconic films.

Donnie Russo is a gay porn legend. Early in his career he starred in five Palm Drive films and posed in numerous still photos by Jack Fritscher. His work with Palm Drive has reached cult status.

Mickey Squires is a Colt model and a renowned performer in adult films. He collaborated with Palm Drive Video in the 1990s when he was in his mid-40s and was re-establishing his porn persona as a Daddy and a Bear.

The Men of Palm Drive include Mr. America Chris Duffy, Colt Studios star Tom Howard, Raging Stallion co-founder JD Slater, plus countless “real men” hand-selected by Fritscher and Hemry. They are all intimately immortalized in hundreds of hours of videos and behind-the-scenes footage from the massive Palm Drive archive.

Other Participants (to date):

Susie Bright – Writer

Darryl Carlton (Divinity Fudge) – Artist/Performer

Rick Castro – Photographer

Durk Dehner – Tom of Finland Foundation

Roger Earl – Filmmaker, “Born to Raise Hell”

Jeffrey Escoffier – Porn scholar

Peter Fiske – Chairman Emeritus of the 15 Association

Lucas Hilderbrand – Media Historian

David Hurles – Old Reliable

Owen Keehnen – Grassroots Historian

Mr. Pam – Porn director

Steve Parker – Porn star

Susan Shaw – Thrasher’s mother

Ron Suresha – Writer

Gary Wasdin – Executive Director of The Leather Archives & Museum



Ryan A. White – Director/Producer

Born in Big Sur, California, Ryan White is a documentary filmmaker whose award-winning films have screened around the world. He spent four years in Hanoi, Vietnam working as Film Advisor for the World Wildlife Fund’s Greater Mekong Program, then relocated to Bangkok, Thailand, where he produced and directed two documentary features, Camp Unity (2010) and Mondo Banana (2013). His short film Cruising Elsewhere (2016) was recently awarded Best Short Film at the Tampa Bay Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and Best Documentary Short at CineKink NYC. Other documentary credits include co-directing Dirt McComber: Last of the Mohicans (2018), producing The Organic Life (2013) and associate producing Out Run (2016). Ryan also lectures in documentary and film/video production at California State University, East Bay.


Alex Clausen – Director/Producer

Alex Clausen is an artist that lives and works in Guerneville, California. Clausen earned a bachelors’ degree in Art and Physics from University of California, Davis, and a graduate degree from the California College of the Arts. He was awarded a Graduate Fellowship at the Headlands Center for the Arts for the 2006-2007 year. Clausen has exhibited work at Rena Bransten Gallery, the San Jose Institute for Contemporary Art, the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, Kala Art Institute, the Exploratorium and is part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco collection. He is currently an active collaborator and board member of Earthbound Moon, an arts non-profit based in Eugene, Oregon.


Todd Verow – Producer

Todd Verow attended the Rhode Island School of Design and the AFI Conservatory. He made short experimental films and worked as a cinematographer before making his feature film debut with Frisk in 1996 (Sundance, Berlin & Toronto). Starting his own production company Bangor Films, Todd has directed over twenty-five features and numerous shorts, establishing himself as the most prolific auteur emeritus of the New Queer Cinema.


Charles Lum – Producer

Charles Lum, aka clublum, received his MFA in Photography from the School of The

Art Institute of Chicago in 2004, after 25 years scouting and managing locations for TV commercials and classic feature films like Wall Street, Fatal Attraction and Sid & Nancy. His short videos have screened internationally in museum, art and film venues.


Paul Lee – Producer

Based in Toronto, Paul Lee has produced, co-produced, and associate-produced over 50 films – more than half of which have been award-winning LGBTQ films. LGBTQ productions include San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson’s Berlin-premiered Blue Diary and Sundance-premiered The Joy of Life, and the Berlin-premiered Below the Belt by Toronto filmmakers Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert. Since 1991, Paul has organized, programmed, and curated film festivals in 25 countries around the world. His own films, Thick Lips Thin Lips (1994), These Shoes Weren’t Made for Walking (1995), and The Offering (1999) have screened at hundreds of film festivals and won numerous international awards.









“BITTER YEARS”— Being Gay in Italy



Being Gay in Italy

Amos Lassen

Andre  Adriatica’s “Bitter Years” is a film based on the life of Mario Mieli, one of the founders of the Italian Homosexual Liberation Movement which was created at the beginning of the 1970s. He was an activist, intellectual, writer and performer and an important figure on the Italian cultural scene.

While he was alive, he had deeply complicated relationships with his parents and toward the end of his life with his partner Umberto Pasti, with whom he had an intense love affair. Mario died in 1983 but his legacy lives on today.


Mario killed himself in 1983, before turning 31. He was an activist, an intellectual, a writer and a performer and a key figure in the Italian cultural panorama at that time along with his friends architect Corrado Levi, painter Piero Fassoni singer Ivan Cattaneo, activist Angelo Pezzana, writer Fernanda Pivano and poet Milo De Angelis. He liked to provoke and to innovate but, today, he is not well known. He was the son of the upper-middle class and one of seven children.

“FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO”— Four Families with Children


Four Families with Children

Amos Lassen

When the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality, the backlash by the religious right came quickly and  was very harsh. It was also successful. Daniel Karslake’s documentary film  “For They Know Not What They Do” looks at four faith-based families with LGBTQ children who are caught in “the crosshairs of sexuality, identity, and scripture.”


When the Bible is read to teach that homosexuality is wrong and unforgivable in the eyes of God, many parents with gay or transgender children become conflicted and challenged to learn to love their child unconditionally. Here we see how powerful Christian faith is for many people. Religion, for them, is more than studying the Bible and attending church, it is dedication of life to God. To not follow all of the laws that Christianity imposes means, according to them, that one will  burn for eternity.

However, there are many rules and if you deviate from them, you will not enter the gates of heaven and will burn in hell for eternity.The Christian faith sees homosexuality as a choice and it is possible to stop being homosexual at any time. There are Christian parents who use strong measures to what they believe will “cure” their child of homosexual tendencies. These include conversion camps and the removal of any publications, movies, or items that even mention or suggest homosexual relationships. While the parents are dealing with their own issues of shame, frustration, and conflict, their children suffer in silence and face drug addiction, self-harm and attempted suicide.

The four young adults that we meet here come from different backgrounds but all share similar stories. All four felt that they were different, whether it be an attraction to the same sex or not feeling connected to the sex which they were assigned at birth. Because their feelings go against their religious rules, they hide who they are hoping  that it will all go away.

Ryan Robertson is the son of Evangelical Christians who becomes deeply deep depressed because his parents’ difficulty coping with his sexuality. He participates actively in church but feels misunderstood since he is unable to  understanding how he can feel this way knowing it is against everything he was raised to believe. He has tried conversion methods and eventually he veers off the deep end leaves home and uses drugs to relieve the pain that he feels inside. The drugs and a final overdose led to his death. It was only then that his parents learned to be more open and less fearful of homosexuality.

Sarah McBride came out to her parents as transgender and it was very difficult to do so because she already had an older brother who had come out as gay. Her parents has no idea what transgender meant and did not know how to accept his becoming a woman. Sarah went through severe depression and doubt feeling that she would ever meet anyone who would accept her for who she was. She finally came out publicly in college while shew as student body president and she gained a lot of support. She later became the first transgender intern in the white house and fought to change (such as the Bathroom Bill).

Victor Baez Febo hid his homosexuality from his parents because they are very strong Catholics. He moved back to Puerto Rico to live with his grandmother where he thought he could live his lifestyle and no one would find out but was outed by a neighbor who caught him fighting with a current boyfriend. When his grandmother learned of this from a neighbor, she changed the locks on the door and told him to leave and never come back After his parents were called, he returned home and faced his parents. He eventually moved into his own apartment. After a house warming party with tons of his friends at his home, he went to Pulse, a gay bar. When fire was opened on those there, Victor hid in a closet surviving his friends and many others who were killed that night. A member of a church actually congratulated the shooters in getting rid of all of the so-called “sinners.”

Elliot Porcher was a Tom Boy growing up. She played with bugs, wore baggy clothes and felt like a real boy. She tried to express herself with clothing and outside activities but gave up and starting wearing feminine clothes. She became depressed and withdrew. When she came out to her parents, they didn’t understand and thought it was just a phase and she would eventually grow out of it. They tried to come to terms with the fact that their lives would change once their little girl would totally change identities. They were able to find a way to still have their faith and support their daughter rather than lose her to drugs or suicide.

The film isa wake-up call against complacency. Today many gay men and women live comfortably and we often forget the others who are not so lucky. A film like this reminds us to remain aware of  the struggles that so many other LGBTQ people face daily.

Christianity is evident throughout the film. We see extreme evangelicals misquote the Bible to justify their behavior. This is a sign of the times in a society where people in high places can lie to make political gains and power. Now that evangelicals have lost the battle for same-sex marriage, they have turned on the transgender community.

Those of us in the LGBTQ community must continue to celebrate our rights and acceptance while being vigilant all of the time.

Karslake looks at the toll this culture war has taken on families through four very different but equally devout sets of parents and we see the very real damage they have caused yet it also shows us the parents as otherwise well-meaning. The film is a strong case that the bonds of family and community have the capacity to rise above hate, but at the same time, we are reminded that the LGBTQ community is still under fierce attack.

Thisis a film of honesty, sadness, and joy. It could have easily been just been a collection of clippings of people with religious power showing their hatred toward homosexual and transgender people yet here that hatred is so much more than that.


“All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto” by George M. Johnson— Personal Essays

Johnson, George M. “All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto”,Farrar, Straus and Giroux , 2020.

Personal Essays

Amos Lassen

George M. Johnson explores In a series of personal essays explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. These include getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, flea marketing with his grandmother and his first sexual relationships. Here is what Black queer boys face and a testimony  
for young queer men of color. We look at “gender identity, toxic masculinity,

brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy.” Johnson writes honestly, frankly and with emotional. His personal stories of healing and reconciliation of self are absolutely amazing. The essays are written in a way that made me feel like I was actually chatting with the writer.

“All Boys Aren’t Blue” is heartwarming, funny, and occasionally heartbreaking and Johnson’s take on trauma and tragedy is beautifully dealt with.



“Home” by Jean Alexander— Living in Texas

Alexander, Jenn. “Home”, Bywater Books, 2020.

Living in Texas

Amos Lassen

Rowan Barnes moved to Texas because of her job as grill chef at a new restaurant was but she feels out of place and alone in the Lone Star State. But then she meets Texas born and bred Kate Landreth while picking up beef from a local cattle ranch. Rowan is immediately attracted to Kate and is immediately drawn to the woman and the two women become closer. Kate is Texas through and through and her heart is as big as the state in which she lives. Even though Rowan begins to see Texas differently, Kate is wary about falling for someone who feels that Texas will never be her home. As we read Jenn Alexander’s novel, we find ourselves looking at new definitions of what the word “home” means.

At first, Rowan finds Texas to be completely different from her hometown and she is homesick even while pursuing her dream job.  Of course, the readers want a happy ending for the two women and we hope that they end up together. Rowan finds Texas to be very hot and very conservative and this stays with her until she meets Kate and romance ensues. Kate teaches her all about Texas and we feel her love for the state and also for Rowan. Rowan listens carefully to what Kate says and soon realizes that maybe everything will be alright.

Alexander appeals to the emotions in her book and it is difficult not to weep gently as we read. She has created too relatable characters that we take into our hearts and this she does with beautiful prose and wonderful description. I must admit that I once felt about Texas the way Rowan did and it beautiful that she has someone to help change her mind.

It is very difficult to leave one’s hometown and move to a place that is foreign and the differences between Portland and Rowan’s new home in Texas. With the right person, the wrong place can feel like home.



“The New Jewish Canon” edited by Yehuda Kurtzer and Claire E.Sufrin— A Text and a Textbook

Kurtzer, Yehuda and Claire E. Sufrin, editors. “The New Jewish Canon”,Academic Studies Press, 2020.

A Text and a Textbook

Amos Lassen

During the last two centuries and into the 21stthere have been many new thoughts about Jewish ideas and major changes have occurred in Jewish life.  These have brought about debates because changes have happened so rapidly. In Yehuda Kurtzer and Claire E. Sufrin’s “The New Jewish Canon”, we see how to make sense of what has happened. Eighty excerpts from primary texts along with essays about these texts, we gain an understanding of how these changes can be understood. Leading Jewish scholars look at  “history and memory, Jewish politics and the public square, religion and religiosity, and identities and communities”, there are bound to beconversations about what is included here. Here are the important ideas and debates of the past two generations as well as debate and scholarship about what is to come.

I have read several articles about why “admitted, unrepentant sexual predators who happen to be Jewish intellectuals are accepted by the Jewish community as if they had done nothing wrong and they are included here. Three admitted Jewish sex abusers are included in the book— Ari Shavit, Leon Wieseltier and Steven M. Cohan. These three man were“once significant figures in the Jewish intellectual world but were dismissed from their professional positions after revelations of their serial sexual abuse of multiple women over many years.”.

Table of Contents

Introduction: “The State of Jewish Ideas: Towards a New Jewish Canon”

  1. Jewish Politics and the Public Square
  2. Michael Walzer, Exodus and Revolution, 1985
    Essay: William Galston
  3. George Steiner, “Our Homeland, the Text,” 1985; Judith Butler, “Judith Butler’s Remarks to Brooklyn College on BDS,” 2013
    Essay: Julie Cooper
  4. Jonathan Woocher, Sacred Survival: The Civil Religion of American Jews, 1986
    Essay: Sylvia Fishman
  5. Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947–1949, 1987; and The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, 2004;Ari Shavit, “Survival of the Fittest? An Interview with Benny Morris,” 2004 and “Lydda, 1948,” 2013
    Essay: Daniel Kurtzer
  6. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg vs. Meir Kahane, Public Debate at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, 1988
    Essay: Shaul Magid
  7. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Eliezer Goldman (ed.), Judaism, Human Values, and the Jewish State, 1992
    Essay: Joshua Shanes
  8. Israeli Supreme Court Part 1: Israeli Knesset Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, 1992; Aharon Barak, “A Judge on Judging: The Role of a Supreme Court in a Democracy,” January 2002
    Essay: Yigal Mersel 
  9. Aharon Lichtenstein, “On the Murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z”l,” 1995
    Essay: David Wolkenfeld
  10. Aviezer Ravitzky, Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism, 1996
    Essay: Yehuda Magid
  11. Israeli Supreme Court Part 2: The Israeli Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice, Horev v. Minister of Transportation, 1997; The Israeli Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice: Baruch Marzel v. Jerusalem District Police Commander, Mr. Aharon Franco, 2002 
    Essay: Donniel Hartman 
  12. Samuel G. Freedman, Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry, 2000
    Essay: Noam Pianko
  13. Breaking the Silence Testimonies, Founded in 2004
    Essay: Sarah Anne Minkin
  14. Steven M. Cohen and Jack Wertheimer, “Whatever Happened to the Jewish People?,” 2006
    Essay: Erica Brown
  15. Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, Torat HaMelekh, 2009
    Essay: Hillel Ben-Sasson
  16. Moshe Halbertal, “The Goldstone Illusion,” 2009
    Essay: Elana Stein Hain
  17. Peter Beinart, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” 2010
    Essay: Sara Yael Hirschhorn
  18. Daniel Gordis, “When Balance Becomes Betrayal”  and Sharon Brous, “Lowering the Bar,” 2012
    Essay: Yehuda Kurtzer
  19. Matti Friedman, “An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth,” 2014
    Essay: Rachel Fish
  20. History, Memory and Narrative
  21. David Hartman, “Auschwitz or Sinai?,” 1982
    Essay: Rachel Sabath Beit Halachmi
  22. Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory, 1982
    Essay: Alexander Kaye
  23. Emil Fackenheim, To Mend the World, 1982
    Essay: Benjamin Pollock
  24. Robert M. Cover, “The Supreme Court, 1982 Term—Foreword: Nomos and Narrative,” 1983 
    Essay: Christine Hayes
  25. Kahan Commission (Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Events at the Refugee Camps in Beirut), 1983 
    Essay: Yehuda Kurtzer 
  26. Amos Oz, In the Land of Israel, 1983
    Essay: Wendy Zierler
  27. David Biale, Power and Powerlessness in Jewish History, 1986
    Essay: Judah Bernstein
  28. Elie Wiesel, Acceptance Speech, on the Occasion of the Award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, 1986
    Essay: Claire E. Sufrin
  29. Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved, 1986
    Essay: Sarah Cushman
  30. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, “The Third Great Cycle of Jewish History,” 1987
    Essay: Joshua Feigelson
  31. Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, 1993; Yaffa Eliach, There Once Was a World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok, 1998 
    Essay: Yehuda Kurtzer
  32. Haym Soloveitchik, “Rupture and Reconstruction,” 1994
    Essay: Yehuda Kurtzer
  33. Naomi Seidman, “Elie Wiesel and the Scandal of Jewish Rage,” 1996
    Essay: Erin Leib Smokler 
  34. Dabru Emet, New York Times, 2000
    Essay: Marcie Lenk
  35. Jonathan Sarna, American Judaism: A History, 2004
    Essay: Marc Dollinger
  36. David Weiss Halivni, Breaking the Tablets: Jewish Theology After the Shoah,2007
    Essay: Daniel Weiss
  37. Ruth Wisse, “How Not to Remember and How Not to Forget,” 2008
    Essay: Dara Horn
  38. Yossi Klein Halevi, Like Dreamers, 2013
    Essay: Hannah Kober

III. Religion and Religiosity

  1. Joseph Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man, 1983
    Essay: Shlomo Zuckier
  2. Yehoshua Yeshaya Neuwirth, Shemirath Shabbath Kehilchathah, 1984 
    Essay: David Bashevkin
  3. David Hartman, A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism, 1985
    Essay: David Ellenson
  4. The Complete Artscroll Siddur, 1984
    Essay: David Zvi Kalman
  5. Neil Gillman, Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew, 1990; Eugene Borowitz, Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew, 1991
    Essay: Michael Marmur
  6. Rachel Adler “In Your Blood, Live: Re-visions of a Theological Purity,” 1993
    Essay: Gail Labovitz
  7. Rodger Kamenetz, The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet’s Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India, 1994
    Essay: Or Rose
  8. Avivah Gottleib Zornberg, Genesis: The Beginning of Desire, 1995
    Essay: Shira Hecht-Koller
  9. Abraham Joshua Heschel, Susannah Heschel (ed.), Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, 1996
    Essay: William Plevan
  10. Noam Zion and David Dishon, A Different Night: The Family Participation Haggadah, 1997
    Essay: Emily Filler
  11. Mendel Shapiro, “Qeri’at HaTorah by Women: A Halakhic Analysis,” 2001
    Essay: Tova Hartman
  12. Jonathan Sacks, Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations, London: Continuum,2002
    Essay: Michal Raucher
  13. Rav Shagar, Broken Vessels, 2004
    Essay: Tomer Persico
  14. Arthur Green, Radical Judaism: Rethinking God and Tradition, 2010; Daniel Landes, “Hidden Master,” 2010; Arthur Green and Daniel Landes, “God, Torah, and Israel: An Exchange,” 2011
    Essay: Samuel Hayim Brody
  15. Elie Kaunfer, Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities, 2010
    Essay: Shawn Landres and Josh Avedon
  16. Identities and Communities
  17. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Letter to the Jewish Community of Teaneck, 1981
    Essay: Jonathan Sarna
  18. Blu Greenberg, On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition, 1981
    Essay: Rachel Gordan
  19. Harold Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, 1981; Alan Lew, This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation, 2003
    Essay: Joshua Ladon
  20. Evelyn Torton Beck (ed.), Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology, 1982; Susannah Heschel (ed.), On Being a Jewish Feminist, 1983
    Essay: Claire E. Sufrin
  21. Paul Cowan with Rachel Cowan, Mixed Blessings: Overcoming the Stumbling Blocks in an Interfaith Marriage, 1988
    Essay: Samira Mehta
  22. Judith Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective, 1990
    Essay: Judith Rosenbaum
  23. Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Deborah, Golda, and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America, 1991
    Essay: Arielle Levites
  24. Barry Kosmin, “Highlights of the CJF 1990 National Jewish Population Survey,” 1991; “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” 2013
    Essay: Mijal Bitton
  25. Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy, 1991; Paula Hyman, “Who is an Educated Jew?” 2002; Vanessa Ochs, “Ten Jewish Sensibilities,” 2003
    Essay: Hannah Pressman
  26. Yaakov Levado, “Gayness and God: Wrestlings of an Orthodox Rabbi,” 1993
    Essay: Zev Farber
  27. Leonard Fein, “Smashing Idols and Other Prescriptions for Jewish Continuity,” 1994
    Essay: Aryeh Cohen
  28. Steven M. Cohen and Arnold M. Eisen, The Jew Within: Self, Family, and Community in America, 2000
    Essay: Alan Brill
  29. A. B. Yehoshua, “The Meaning of Homeland,” 2006
    Essay: James Loeffler
  30. Elliot N. Dorff, Daniel S. Nevins, and Avram I. Reisner, “Homosexuality, Human Dignity, and Halakhah: A Combined Responsum for the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards,” 2006 
    Essay: Jane Kanarek
  31. Noah Feldman “Orthodox Paradox,” 2007; Jay Lefkowitz, “The Rise of Social Orthodoxy: A Personal Account,” 2014
    Essay: Elli Fischer
  32. Tamar Biala and Nechama Weingarten-Mintz (eds.), Dirshuni: Midrashei Nashim, 2009
    Essay: Sarah Mulhern
  33. Leon Wieseltier, “Language, Identity, and the Scandal of American Jewry,” 2011
    Essay: Jon Levisohn
  34. Ruth Calderon, Inaugural Knesset Speech, “The Heritage of All Israel,” 2013
    Essay: Yossi Klein Halevi
  35. Rick Jacobs, “The Genesis of Our Future,” 2013
    Essay: Dan Friedman

“An Oasis in Time” by Benji Levy— Seven Thoughts for the Seventh Day

Levy, Benji. “An Oasis in Time”, Maggid, 2020.

Seven Thoughts for the Seventh Day

Amos Lassen

According to the Hebrew Bible, we are commanded to rest on the seventh day commemorating the day when the earth was complete and the concept of rest was created. When we think of rest today, we usually think of turning everything off but the rest we look with Shabbat is different—rather than being a kind of passive activity, it is active. For Shabbat, we channel “a different kind of energy”, a kind of rest that leads to “rejuvenation”, an intentional rest. We rest by taking part in life and enjoying our relationships, friends and moments that give meanings to our lives. This kind of rest leads us to the feeling of restoration and there are many ways to do this as we learn from Rabbi Benji Levy in his “An Oasis in Time: Seven Thought for the Seventh Day”. Through this we see Shabbat as “an expression of personal liberty, a spiritual encounter, an opportunity for connection, and a protest against injustice, as an anchor to our past and a window into the future.”

Rabbi Levy shares “his profound insights into the multifaceted nature of Shabbat.” We get a Shabbat that is filled with meaning and see it as both personal and private, a day that gives us not only relaxation but a recalibration of our lives. While the seventh day becomes individual and personal, it remains universal as we gain perspectives on who we are and our relationship with spirituality. Through observing Shabbat, we see the Jewish relationship to humankind and humanity and how we fit into the “universalist side of our religious worldview and enjoins us to become involved in social justice that is authentic and inclusive.” We also come to understand that Shabbat is “at the heart of two ideas that constitute Judaism’s most important intellectual contributions to human civilization, monotheism and messianism.”

The seven thoughts include:

1.“Shabbat and Self”

2. “Shabbat and the Soul”

3. Shabbat and the Other

4.. “Shabbat and Social Justice”

5.“Shabbat and our Humanity”

6..“Shabbat and the Jewish Revolution”

7.“Shabbat and the Messiah”


“The Lady of Hebrew and Her Lovers of Zion” by Hillel Halkin— Hebrew Zionism and the State of Israel

Halkin, Hillel. “The Lady of Hebrew and Her Lovers of Zion”, Toby Press, 2020.

Hebrew, Zionism and the State of Israel

Amos Lassen

Many take for granted the importance of literature in his history of a country. In the case of Israel, the importance of literature began long before the establishment of the state. A number of major Hebrew authors, writing in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, had tremendous impact on the evolution of the modern Hebrew language and on Zionism as a his­toric force in Jewish life. Yet even with this Hebrew novelists, essayists, and poets such as Joseph Perl, Peretz Smolenskin, Ahad Ha’am, Micha Yosef Berdichevsky, Chaim Nachman Bialik, Rahel, Yosef Chaim Brenner, and S. Y. Agnon are so much more than just of historical significance. They were all highly accomplished writers with secure places in the pantheon of modern Hebrew literature because of the skill, depth, and power of their work.

Hillel Halkin is a wonderful writer and his skill is seen all over the book. He discusses the writers featured here through “literary criticism, intellectual history, virtuoso translation, and personal reflection.” On a personal note, ”The Lady of Hebrew and her Lovers of Zion” arrived just as my study group was looking at the poetry of Rahel. I thought that I knew a lot about her since I had lived on the kibbutz where she once experienced Israel. I found out that there was a great deal about her that I did not know. Likewise, I found the chapter on Chaim Nachman Bialik, my favorite Hebrew poet.


“Tribal Blueprints: Twelve Brothers and the Destiny of Israel: Twelve Brothers and the Destiny of Israel”  by Nechama Price— The Beginnings of the Jewish Nation

Price, Nechama. “Tribal Blueprints: Twelve Brothers and the Destiny of Israel: Twelve Brothers and the Destiny of Israel,”  Maggid, 2020.

The Beginnings of the Jewish Nation

Amos Lassen

“The Jewish nation begins with a collection of twelve brothers and half-brothers, linked through their father, Jacob.” When all twelve are taken together, we have “B’nai Yisrael”, yet ach has individual and separate lives with specific roles within the family. Each also has his own personality with their own hopes, talents and fears.

Nechama Price has arranged her book with a chapter for each brother as an individual and we learn about who they are and who they aspire to be. We gain a deep analysis of their stories as in the Torah and rabbinic teachings about their characters. Their personalities are the result of their “proclivities, choices and experiences.” We also learn of their families and their descendants and of their tribes.

From their close familiar beginnings, each develops into a distinct tribe, with its own characteristics and destinies that have become part of history. We have traditionally studied their stories in the order that they appear in the Five Books of Moses. However, here the focus is on each son’s individual personality and story by the order of his birth and gain perspectives as seen from their descendants. By understanding the twelve sons of Jacob, we gain new understandings of the Torah and it is as if we are on a completely new journey. We certainly see that history is composed of the people who make it. As we attempt to answer the questions of “How do these individuals evolve? What is the role of each of the four mothers? How does each brother’s placement in the birth order of the family influence his behavior? How are the brothers’ personalities reflected in future generations?”, Biblical narrative comes alive—more than ever— and we see the special roles of each of the sons and each of the tribes.


Revry Launches First LGBTQ+ Cable TV Platform for Pride

Revry Launches First LGBTQ+ Cable TV Platform for Pride
As COVID Shuts Down Global LGBTQ+ Events, Revry Serves the Community with Free Multi-Channel Queer TV

LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2020 – Revry, the first global LGBTQ streaming network, has partnered with Brightcove Inc. (NASDAQ: BCOV), the leading global provider of cloud services for video, to launch a first-of-its kind cable TV platform amid widespread cancelations of major Pride events and LGBTQ+ film festivals. The new platform provides an unprecedented option for those in need of community during this pandemic: a free, truly “always on” TV experience made exclusively for LGBTQ+ people.
The new Revry apps create a cable TV-like environment streaming multiple live TV channels in real time to its diverse and multi-faceted audiences. In addition to offering full access to its On-Demand library with a Revry Premium Subscription, and limited access for free with ads, now users can watch Revry’s “unapologetically queer” movies, shows, music, podcasts, and originals on four free live TV channels, including the first 24/7 LGBTQ global news channel, Revry Now. 

“Creating a ‘radically inclusive’ global network has always been in our DNA given the diverse makeup of Revry’s women-led, majority queer, veteran and POC founding team.” said Alia J. Daniels, COO and Co-Founder of Revry. “One of the best things about the new platform is that we’re not locked-in to showcasing only one point of view at a time­. However you identify within the community, chances are you’ll always see yourself reflected back on one of our live channels.”

These diverse points of view are best highlighted in Revry’s stand-out slate of original programming which includes: the Wes Anderson-style comedy series SINK SANK SUNK, starring Academy Award nominee Laura Linney; the anthology docu-series THE CATEGORY IS, which follows the vibrant underground ballroom scene in different countries; the second season of the reality TV series, PUTTING ON; and the comedy series BIFL which explores the wide range of identities within the LGBTQIA spectrum.  In addition to the more than 100 new titles being added this Pride season, the Queer TV network will also release the new VICE-like docu-series SUBMISSION POSSIBLE, exploring the queer side of kink and sex positive culture as it exists in different cities throughout the country.

As a response to the pandemic, Revry has also created the Revry Share Initiative in order to give back to LGBTQ+ organizations and businesses affected by COVID. Multiple national and international organizations and businesses have already signed up to participate in the Initiative including PFLAG, NGLCC, LA Pride, the Advocate & Out Magazines, Metropolitan Community Churches, San Francisco LGBT Center and the international LGBTQ centers’ CenterLink organization.

The Queer TV network, named “App of the Day” by the Apple App Store, will be adding 10 new live channels before the end of the year–further expanding its unique virtual cable TV network into Pride season and beyond. For any more information about subscribing or watching live channels, go to revry.tv. Check out the new Revry trailer here.

About Revry

Watch Queer TV 24/7 with the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable network. Revry offers free live TV channels and On-Demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news, and exclusive originals all in one place! Revry is currently available in over 225+ million households and devices, and available globally on over nine OTT, Mobile, Connected TV and Desktop platforms. Revry can also be found on Comcast Xfinity X1, XUMO TV, Zapping TV, STIRR (Sinclair Broadcast Group) and TiVo+. The company–an inaugural member of the Goldman Sachs Black and LatinX Cohort–is headquartered in Los Angeles and led by a diverse founding team who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy.  Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @revrytv. Revry.tv