“Sex and Stigma: Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada’s Legal Brothels”— Working the Sex Trade

Blithe, Sarah Jane, Ann Wiederhold Wolfe and Breanna Mohr. “Sex and Stigma: Stories of Everyday Life in Nevada’s Legal Brothels”. NYU Press, 2019.

Working the Sex Trade

Amos Lassen

“Sex and Stigma” is an intimate and original look at the lives of Nevada’s legal sex workers through the voices of current and former employees, brothel owners, madams, and local law enforcement  

Nevada is the only jurisdiction in the United States where prostitution is legal. Of course with that there are bound to be stories and these stories always seem to make headlines. These stories along with the stigma of being a sex worker contribute greatly to experiences of oppression and unfair labor practices for many legal prostitutes in Nevada.  Here are stories of women living and working in these “hidden” organizations to interrogate issues related to labor rights, secrecy, privacy, and discrimination in the current legal brothel system.            

We have interviews with current and former legal sex workers, brothel owners, madams, local police, and others as we examine how widespread beliefs about the immorality of selling sexual services have influenced the history and laws of legal brothel prostitution. The authors gained unique access to a difficult-to-reach population thus allowing us to read about their struggles to engage in their communities, conduct business, maintain personal relationships, and transition out of the industry. The authors also examine how these brothels operate like other kinds of legal entities, and how “individuals deal with balancing work and non-work commitments, navigate work place cultures, and handle managerial relationships.” The book is a resource on the policies guiding legal prostitution in Nevada and provides an intimate look at the lived experiences of women performing sex work.

First-person perspectives combine with feminist scholarship demystify the brothel as a workplace. Here is the groundwork for greater understanding of the everyday routines and work-life considerations of legal sex workers. We attach real faces, lives, workplace, and home issues to these women and learn a great deal from them.




“After the Protests Are Heard: Enacting Civic Engagement and Social Transformation” by Sharon D. Welch— Creating Social Change Beyond the Barricades

Welch, Sharon D. “After the Protests Are Heard: Enacting Civic Engagement and Social Transformation”, (Religion and Social Transformation), NYU Press, 2019.

Creating Social Change Beyond the Barricades

Amos Lassen

Of late, we have seen a rise in protests and social activism and I am quite sure that we all know why that is. Be it the Women’s March in D.C. to #BlackLivesMatter rallies across the country, we are showing our discontent like never before. These events have been an important part of the battle to combat racism, authoritarianism, and xenophobia in Trump’s America. Yet, the struggle for social justice continues long after the posters and megaphones are packed away. After the protests are heard, how do we continue to work toward lasting change?  Sharon Welch gives us a guide to creating long-lasting social change beyond the barricades.

This is an invaluable resource for anyone invested in the fight for social justice. We are given examples of social justice work at the institutional level and from the worlds of social enterprise, impact investing, and sustainable business, we have descriptions of the work being done to promote responsible business practices and healthy, cooperative communities. Welch illuminates how colleges and universities educate students to strive toward social justice on campuses across the country with examples such as the Engaged Scholarship movement, which fosters interactions between faculty and students and local and global communities.  In each of these instances, activists work from within institutions to transform practices and structures to foster justice and equality. We ask if there is an advantage to working from within and we are given the answer here.

Welch takes on the difficult reality that social change is often followed by increases in violence and authoritarianism. She then offers important insights into how the nation might more fully acknowledge the brutal costs of racism and the historical drivers of racial injustice, and how people of all races can stop such violence in the present and prevent it in the future. For many members of the social justice community. It becomes obvious that the real work begins when the protests end. This is a must-read for everyone interested in social justice and activism on whatever level.

The book looks to those with  institutional power and influence, helping navigate obligations and opportunities to build communities that promote equality and respect. We become aware of the nature of the challenges we confront, including the forces that try to change our identities and values. We explore the specific strategies that are available and, indeed, already being used by creative activists to bring about a better world. Everything here is “theoretically informed, and engaging antidote and response to the authoritarian turn in contemporary politics.” The strategies we have here are practical and utilitarian that will hopefully bring about the dissipation of protesting.  The stress here is on
progress and process rather than difficult goals and we are given more of a call to reason than a call to arms.

These are actionable responses to systemic injustice that makes a  case for enacting a hopeful, constructive, and inclusive feminist progressivism. We go beyond the reasons why social change is necessary right now and consider how it can be done.

“The Autobiography of Solomon Maimon: The Complete Translation” by Solomon Maimon and edited by Yitzhak Y. Melamed and Paul Reitter— An Annoyed Translation

Maimon, Solomon. “The Autobiography of Solomon Maimon: The Complete Translation”, edited by Yitzhak Y. Melamed, Abraham Sochar and Paul Reitter,  Princeton University Press, 2019.

An Annotated Translation

Amos Lassen

Solomon Maimon’s autobiography has pleased readers for more than two hundred years. Goethe, Schiller, George Eliot, Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt are known to have read it and it is considered to be one of the most crucial Jewish books of modern times. This is the first complete and annotated English edition of Maimon’s influential and delightfully entertaining memoir.

 Maimon was born into a down-on-its-luck provincial Jewish family in 1753 in Eastern Europe. He was a prodigy in learning. And even as a young child, he worried about the constraints of his Talmudic education and rabbinical training. He sought stimulation in the Hasidic community and among students of the Kabbalah and he shares rare and often very funny accounts of both. After a series of misadventures and things going wrong, Maimon got to Berlin, where he became part of the city’s Jewish Enlightenment and received and achieved the philosophical education he so desperately wanted and winning acclaim for being the “sharpest” of Kant’s critics, as Kant himself described him.

This new edition restores text that was cut from the abridged 1888 translation by J. Clark Murray, which has long been the only available English edition. Paul Reitter’s new. translation is sensitive to the subtleties of Maimon’s prose while at the same time, provides a fluid rendering that today’s readers will enjoy. The introduction by Yitzhak Melamed and the notes by Abraham Socher give valuable insights into Maimon and his extraordinary life. The book also has an afterword by Gideon Freudenthal that gives us an authoritative overview of Maimon’s contribution to modern philosophy.

Maimon describes his humble roots in a deeply impoverished rural Jewish community in Eastern Europe, his enlightenment, and then his strange and rough journey to find others as enlightened as he thought himself to be. He yearned for wisdom, Maimon oscillates between the mystical and the skeptical, with the skeptical side gaining influence as his life (and the book) progresses. He eventually arrives in Germany and surrounds himself with the urbane intellectuals he’d always hoped to join, but he never quite feels at home. He sinks into depression and drink, having chosen his career and status over a path with more heart and having left his family and roots behind.

Maimon is a joy to read even though his philosophical writings can be very abstruse. He’s neurotic, but self-aware and honest. He never loses sight of a faint glimmer of hope in spite of all his tribulations.

This is an autobiography of a troubled genius. We become aware of the differences in cultures and temperament between Jews in Poland and Jews in Germany. Life in Poland was difficult and wretched, largely due to the fact that it had a monarchy and was mostly rural.

The autobiography itself is fascinating and fast moving. The philosophical musings are necessary to fully understanding the author and as a philosopher, I appreciate their inclusion.

I found the descriptions of the early Hasidim to be extremely interesting and we see that the Hasidim followed in the steps of earlier mystics and ascetics, and it is suggested that the Hasidim met with hostility from leading rabbis because their anti-ascetism.

Maimon’s internal criticism of Transcendental Idealism paved the way for the theories of the post Kantian Idealists. He was one of the thinkers who helped with the transformation of ‘critical’ to ‘dogmatic’ idealism. This is a concise, well written autobiography that is written with wit and humor and it recounts the memorable events of his extraordinary life. Maimon was a man of exceptional intelligence and that was obvious not only to himself but also to his countrymen whose high esteem he commanded from a young age due to his excellence in the Talmudic studies to which he grew skeptical towards and set out to seek rational and scientific enlightenment in Germany.

His story from successes to misfortunes goes from the hilarious to the tragic and reveals a personality of a genius whose naivete in social relationships and insistence never to pursue anything but knowledge kept him in almost constant destitution.

Solomon Maimon was one of the most important philosophers of the Jewish Enlightenment. Both brilliant and eccentric, he set out in 1792 to write the first autobiography ever written in German by a Jew and it is a work of literary and philosophical significance.


“Stella Maris: And Other Key West Stories” by Michael Carroll— In the Conch Republic

Carroll. Michael. “Stella Maris: And Other Key West Stories”, Turtle Point Press, 2019.

In the Conch Republic

Amos Lassen

I love Michael Carroll’s new story collection but I have been hesitant to post my review since it will be out until April. This means that it cannot be read and enjoyed just yet. Nonetheless,  something whispered in my ear today to go ahead and write the review and post it to perhaps build up some enthusiasm for the collection of stories. I have a tendency to gush over books that I really like but I am going to restrain myself this time and be a bit conservative even though I want to yell out that I LOVE THIS BOOK.

I also love Key West but it has been many many years since I have been there and I doubt I will get there again anytime soon. Carroll did make me want to reconsider that thought and who knows what may come my way. I would never have dreamt that I would leave the intoxication and magic of New Orleans to live in staid and intellectual Boston but here I am.

What surprised me the most about “Stella Maris” is that I traditionally do not read or like short stories; I just do not enjoy them and I found myself deeply involved in each of Carroll’s eight stories. We enter a different world in Key West and even today it reminds us of how it was when who-was-who mixed with who-was-there and social class and fame held no importance. Key West has always had that mysterious quality of drawing people to her and not letting them go even when they physically depart. And those who depart do so with some Key West within. It has become of “the” places to go to and has been a beacon that brings people in to its bohemian world that still manages to exist. It is a mecca for the LGBT community and it certainly provided Michael Carroll with a home from where to spin these stories. If you know Key West, you can place the stories in their venue without much thought and if you don’t know Key West you can make up venues—it really doesn’t matter. What you do need is grit to go along with the grittiness of what you read here. I had forgotten (just go along with this lousy sentence structure— I am very aware of it) just how important where you went to college was and what fraternity you were a member of in the lives of Southerners but Carroll quickly reminded me rekindling my memories about the genteelness and class consciousness of Southern queens— especially those from Charleston and Savannah. “My wife was a goddamn alligator. And the weather sucked. I like cute Southern boys, the ones that went to their moron dads’ frats. Kappa Sig and ATO. Hot sexy dopes”.

We have a story about a memorial for a drag queen, Harlan Douglas aka Cherry de Vine (I hadn’t heard the name Harlan since I left college but one of my best friends and fraternity brothers [not Kappa Sig or ATO] was named Harlan). “Key West Funeral” had me flipping pages very quickly. We have a story about two Southern sisters on a cruise ship holiday who have to deal with alcoholism, estrangement, and horrible weather. Then we have a look at two newly divorced gay men who pick themselves up and become part of the evenings at the end of the world. Another story is set at an all-male, clothing-optional resort where guys of all ages literally fall into one another’s paths, enjoy themselves as they please, and  also regale one another on their views and preconceptions. 

Michael Carroll also does not allow us to forget that there was a time that our lives revolved around illness and death. The past may leave us but its mark remains and that mark is often those graves that were left by those who died from AIDS. We became very aware of “our own mortality and the unpredictable nature of life and of survival. It’s about new beginnings and final recognitions.” As you can probably imagine, Carroll is outspoken yet tender, lustful and often enraged, sad and fun at the same time. His writing sparkles and shines as he embraces  the lives of his characters and I am quite sure that he based them on people he knows or had seen in Key West giving these stories a relevance since we all know people like the ones we read about here.

I was not expecting to be emotionally touched by these stories but I am glad I was because it gives me one more thing to give Carroll credit for. The stories are microcosms of our lives and who we are with comedy and tragedy combined. I only met Michael once and that was over a coffee a few years ago and I realized that whatever we talked about that day came back in these stories. They are about our lives and how we see them and it takes a certain kind of writer to be able to relate this—- Michael Carroll surpassed any expectations that I had. He is bold and original and he writes what he wants to write about. Using death as his unifier of his stories, it is our last party on the circuit. I daresay that the sadness we feel in reading some of these stories is replaced by a jubilance  of being alive.

“Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story” by Leslea Newman— Coming to America

Newman, Leslea. “Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story”, illustrated (beautifully) by Amy June Bates, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019,

Coming to America

Amos Lassen

Regarding immigration, we are living I troubled times and we are certainly well aware of that. It seems even more troubling when we remember and realize that many of us are first generation Americans and we grew up with stories about coming to America. If you don’t have a personal story, you borrow “Gittel’s Journey”, the wonderful and sensitive new book by the amazing Leslea Newman. We immediately see how important it is for the young community to understand what the importance of coming to this country is and especially not having to face a wall to get in.

Gittel is nine-years-old when she and her mother leave “The Old Country” to come to America. They do not just leave physically; this is also an emotional journey as they leave friends, possessions and memories. There is no room in a suitcase for memories. Gittel wants to bring Frieda, their goat but her mother tells her, “We cannot bring a goat to America”. But when they reach the boat, Mama is barred from boarding due to an eye infection, and she insists that Gittel continue without her. It is difficult to get through this part of the story with dry eyes and we know what Mama knows— it was not safe to stay in Europe at that time and Gittel knew her mother was right so she put her mother’s Shabbat candlesticks on her bundle and with her little more than what she was wearing and could put in her bundle, she boarded the boat with the address of a cousin in New York City and began her journey to Ellis Island and America. It’s not a new story, we have heard it many times before but today it is especially important. To have Leslea Newman tell it to us is a ”mehayeh”.

The mixed-media images by Bates are washed in yellows and browns and framed by woodblock motifs and give us a sense of the historical context. They  beautifully capture emotions. Speaking of emotions, Leslea Newman injects true emotion into the story in the form of fear, excitement and loneliness and with sharp insight she modulates those emotions with both restraint and warmth We can only imagine how difficult it was to write about a young girl leaving everything she knew behind but then  she also must leave her mother. Of course things will work out but if we put ourselves in Gittel’s place and try to imagine what she felt, we get an entirely new take on leaving home.

Now I have a selfish story to interject here that also has something to say about restarting life in a new place. Way back when, I had decided to leave America and move to Israel— it had become my Jewish and Zionist responsibility to build the land. I was in the auto with my mother driving to the airport when I could no longer control my tears. My mother looked over at me and asked why I was crying. (At that time, I did not know that I would ever see anyone from my family again and my father and I did not part on good terms). I answered her saying that it was very difficult to say goodbye and she responded with, “Think about how many new hellos you will say” and that beautiful thought is always with me as it was with Gittel as it probably was with Gittel.

There is not a lot of text in the story but every word is a pearl and the design of the book is just gorgeous. The ending is a tear-jerker but one that leaves you feeling complete and emotionally happy. Leslea decided to tell this tale that obviously means a great deal to her. We learn that this is the story of her grandmothers coming to America.

I think it is only fair to say that I am a huge fan of Leslea Newman  and if you have read my reviews in the past, you might remember that I mentioned that one of the first books I reviewed was Newman’s “A Letter to Harvey Milk” and it was that experience that caused me to decide to continue reviewing. I wanted to share my excitement about reading our literature. I have reviewed many of Newman’s writings—- she has written seventy books for adults and children and it is my goal to read them all.

For those of you in the Boston area, Leslea will be with my temple, Temple Sinai of Brookline, during the weekend of March 30 and will speak to the entire temple on Friday night as our Rainbow Shabbat speaker and on Sunday she will speak to my adult learning class as part of my series, “Judaism and the LBGT Community: An Exploration”.


“American Homo: Community and Perversity: by Jeffrey Escoffier— How Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual people Have Challenged and Changed Society

Escoffier, Jeffrey. “American Homo: Community and Perversity”, Verso, 2018. How Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual people Have Challenged and Changed Society Amos Lassen In ”American Homo”, Jeffrey Escoffier looks at LGBT movements across American political life, where they have had to deal with the historical tension between the homoeroticism and outbreaks of homophobia. He explores how “every new success brings about a new disciplinary and normalizing form of domination; only the active exercise of democratic rights and participation in radical coalitions allows LGBT people to sustain the benefits of community and the freedom of sexual perversity.” This is an exploration of sexual revolution as a process instead of singular events as well as a look at the central and formative role of LGBT struggles within that process. LGBT agency and grass-roots knowledge are necessary in order to create  the conditions for radical change.  We see the deconstructionist tradition of Foucault and Marcuse in this collection of essays and articles that  span 15 years in the author’s attempt to ‘recode’ the sociopolitical identity of gays and lesbians in contemporary American life.  The book covers such topics as sexual revolution and the politics of gay identity, the political economy of the closet, and the limits of multiculturalism, Escoffier traces the political vitality of gays and lesbians and “how that vitality challenges the traditional heterosexist political and economic hegemony.” In order to overcome the antidemocratic agenda of the far Right, gays and lesbians will have to unite with other social movements.

In the early chapters, we look at the rise of the gay movement and the increasing importance of visible sexuality in gay people’s lives. He go from there to the importance of how identity manifests itself in community and politics. The tensions that exist between a professionalized homosexual politic (particularly in the academy) and the more independent, community-based models of grass-roots groups such as ACT UP and Queer Nation are important to understanding how we got to where we are.

“OF LOVE AND LAW”— The Absurdities of Japanese Life

“Of Love & Law” The Absurdities of Japanese Life Amos Lassen To many outside of Asia, Japan is a mysterious land but in reality it is a nation and state like any other, with charms, foibles and contemporary challenges that the very real people living there must deal with every day. It’s these challenges that filmmaker Hikaru Toda examines in “Of Love & Law”,  a documentary about the legal battles that marginalized Japanese are fighting in 2018.
The film tracks lawyers Masafumi Yoshida and Kazayuki Minami — Fumi and Kazu — who are also personal and professional partners, over the course of several years as they take on constitutional challenges. Toda shines a light on the apparent self-contradiction and traditional rigidity that are making life difficult for thousands of Japanese citizens raised to be nonconfrontational and respectful of others and community to the detriment of themselves. Though the film isn’t particularly cutting-edge stylistically or formally, it doesn’t have to be because it is socially current.   The lives of Fumi and Kazu become the lens through which Toda examines Japanese society’s more draconian elements, particularly those that apply to freedom of expression, nonconforming legal statuses and LGBT rights. The two lawyers are Osaka’s, and Japan’s, first openly gay practicing lawyers. attract a niche clientele almost by default: those who feel Japan’s tendency to social conformity and obedience is suffocating their personal freedoms, quashing their voices, jeopardizing their very survival or all of the above. Among the cases Fumi and Kazu take on are those of an artist arrested for obscenity as a result of her vagina-themed art, this despite Kazu walks into an adult department store and buys all manner of sex toys from the window display; a teacher who refused to sing the national anthem as a form of protest and lost her job for it and a pair of twentysomethings who were undocumented on their family registries for varying reasons, including hiding from an abusive husband. Without a registration, the two have nominal legal status as citizens at best, and are unable to get passports, driver’s licenses or into a university, among other issues.
“Of Love & Law” lays out the details, and lets the inconsistencies, illogic and, to Western audiences, illegalities reveal themselves.Most interesting perhaps is that the film is a record of two men proudly bucking an entrenched, confining system and doing well anyway— Fumi and Kazu have been together 15 years, and as a portrait of a nation in flux, one that is being forced to deal with the individual at a pace and in a way it never has before.

“HORROR EXPRESS”— On a Train to Moscow

 “HORROR EXPRESS” On a Train to Moscow Amos Lassen Horror stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee act together in this story of mad monks, primitive humanoids and bloodthirsty zombies on a train bound to Moscow.  Renowned anthropologist Saxton (Lee) boards the Trans-Siberian Express with a large crate containing the frozen remains of a primitive humanoid which, he believes, may prove to be the missing link in human evolution. All hell breaks loose when the creature thaws out, turning out to be quite alive and begins killing passengers.
Directed by Eugenio Martin, “Horror Express” is  one for the most thrilling chilling horror efforts of the early 1970s. Cushing plays an acquaintance of his. Both men are aboard the train and Dr. Wells’, Cushing’s character is very interested in what Saxton has in his trunk.
The film has a great story with this mystery surrounding the as to whether it is the missing link, some sort of alien or the devil himself. It’s all eventually revealed and I liked where they went with it. The acting is excellent throughout and Lee and Cushing are both great actors. They have a great chemistry and I can see why they were paired up. There’s a sense of mutual respect and hatred all at the same time between their two characters and it’s very believable.
At the station, a thief is struck dead trying to rob the crate and his eyes turn white. After the crate is loaded in the baggage car, the curious Wells bribes the baggage man to drill a hole in the crate to see what the fossil looks like. But the monster thaws out and when his eyes turn red in the dark he kills the baggage man by intently staring at him and escapes on the train. The dead man’s eyes also turn white, as we further learn the monster drains his brain and absorbs all his knowledge. This is just the beginning.
The train journey will have many more victims and this  results in a power-hungry Cossack, Captain Kazan (Telly Savalas), boarding the train with his soldiers to investigate the murders and bullying everyone aboard, especially the weird acting Russian police Inspector Mirov (Julio Pea) and the even weirder acting crazed monk Father Pujardov (Alberto de Mendoza). Since the monster was killed by the police inspector, the Cossack hunts down the party who became possessed by the alien creature and is carrying on the murder spree.
The film is pure entertainment and speedily paced as well. The new pristine blu ray transfer is a real treat. Colors are vivid and framing also looks accurate throughout. SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS   Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements   High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation   Original Uncompressed mono audio   Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing   Brand new audio commentary with Stephen Jones and Kim Newman   Introduction to the film by film journalist and Horror Express super-fan Chris Alexander   Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express an interview with director Eugenio Martin   Notes from the Blacklist Horror Express producer Bernard Gordon on working in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era   Telly and Me an interview with composer John Cacavas   Original Theatrical Trailer   Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys   FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully-illustrated collector s booklet with new writing by Adam Scovell

“THE DRAG ROAST OF HEKLINA”— Coming February 1, 2019.

THE DRAG ROAST OF HEKLINA  Wide Release Friday February. 1st on Revry.tv 
“Heklina is Drag’s most enduring professional who has broken barriers and is one of the formative creators of the big business that is Drag.  Revry is proud to produce this special for not only an Icon, but with our current drag Super Stars.” – LaShawn McGhee, Revry CPO
Revry presents THE DRAG ROAST OF HEKLINA featuring a talented dais of roasters including noted LGBTQ celebrities, Alaska Thunderfuck, Jackie Beat, Jinkx Monsoon, Bob the Drag Queen, Sister Roma, Julie Brown, and Peaches Christ.  Watch as a panel of iconic drag superstars and comedians grill drag legend Heklina. 
Creator’s Comments Throughout our career, we’ve worked in various capacities with a range of drag queens and comedians. After the success in recent years of celebrity roasts, and in the increasingly high-stress and polictically-correct atmosphere we live in, we wanted to bring the genres of comedy and drag together to bring some levity to the world. Underneath the shade that most people associate with drag queen humor, there is a deep bond of friendship and sisterhood. With the Drag Roast series, we wanted to showcase how drag can not only entertain, but also help us face reality and deal with it, through cruel, harsh and tasteless jokes.
With The Drag Roast of Heklina, we wanted to honor one of San Francisco’s most well-known drag queens. Heklina has been doing drag for over 20 years and is well known for her influence in San Francisco’s LGBTQ community, whether it be through Mother, her parody shows, or her landmark venue The Oasis. In order to provide her with the honor she deserved, we gathered some of her closest friends and esteemed colleagues to roast her in a night she’ll never forget. 
Co-Creators / Executive Producers – BeeZee Productions (Kyle Burt & Evan Zampella) BeeZee Productions was formed in 2017 by Evan Zampella and Kyle Burt. We are content creators who work with a network of writers, performers, and producers, actively developing original series, narratives, and specials. With Kyle’s experience from his career in marketing and advertising, and Evan’s entrepreneurial and production background, together we bring our holistic view to all of our projects. We are one of New York City’s most prolific LGBTQ+ producers actively developing content with many of the country’s top LGBTQ+ talent including Thorgy Thor, Heklina, Sherry Vine, Marti Gould Cummings, and others. BeeZee Productions recent credits include The Drag Roast of Thorgy Thor, Queens of Kings Season 3, and The Drag Roast of Sherry Vine.
About Revry Revry is the first queer global streaming network, available in 35 million homes in over 100 countries, with a uniquely curated selection of LGBTQ+ film, series, and originals along with the world’s largest queer libraries of groundbreaking podcasts, albums and music videos. Revry is available worldwide on seven OTT, mobile, and online platforms, and hosts the exclusive LGBTQ+ channels on Pluto TV and XUMO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Revry is led by an inclusive team of queer, multi-ethnic and allied partners who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and LGBTQ+ advocacy.  Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @REVRYTV. Go Online to: https://revry.tv.


“Wounds into Wisdom: Healing Intergenerational Jewish Trauma” by Rabbi Tirzah Firestone— Ethnic Trauma

Firestone, PhD. Rabbi Tirzah. “Wounds into Wisdom: Healing Intergenerational Jewish Trauma”, Adam Kadmon Books, Monkfish Publishing, 2019. Ethnic Trauma Amos Lassen I doubt that anyone will deny that members of the Jewish religion suffer from ethnic trauma. New research in neuroscience and clinical psychology shows that even when they are hidden, trauma histories (from persecution and deportation to the horrors of the Holocaust) leave imprints on the minds and bodies of future generations. In “Wounds Into Wisdom”, Rabbi Tirzah Firestone “makes a compelling case that trauma legacies can be transformed and healed.” She brings together contemporary neuroscience, psychology, and ancient Jewish wisdom and values, to give us a roadmap for Jews, and all individuals and groups with trauma history, who wish to find and use the power to change their lives. We have case studies and interviews with trauma survivors and their descendants (from Berlin to Shanghai, Cairo to Colorado) to demonstrate what Viktor Frankl called, “the uniquely human potential to transform personal tragedy into triumph.”  Rabbi Firestone is both a rabbi and a psychotherapist and she has studied and counseled many Jewish families and individuals for over 30 years and here she shares how these people have been able to deal with  their tragedies. We all learn something here. We see the ways that past trauma influences and shapes the present regardless of the nature of that trauma. Out of the testimonies she has received, Rabbi Firestone draws seven principles that contain traditional Jewish wisdom and give way to the freedoms we have today. Rabbi Firestone builds on the work of traumatologists that have come before here including Drs. Rachel Yehuda, Bessel van der Kolk, and Yael Danieli. We see how people can transform the residual effects of their families’ painful pasts and change their long-term futures. It is important for us to remember and to be reminded that we have the capacity to rise above whatever devastation comes our way because of our innate wisdom and inner freedom. Collective trauma has impacted the world today and we see this in entire populations being dislocated by war, us with a template for people everywhere to emerge from their tragedies and reshape their destinies. This is relevant not only to the tragic past, “but to the world of turmoil and displacement we live in today”. This is a book for everyone and especially for anyone who has suffered trauma, either directly or in a family whose generational trauma is buried. Reading this helps us  It uncover pain and suffering in order to heal. Humanity has had to deal with death and trauma as a result of the Holocaust and it remains a horrendous event to think about but it is part of history and as Jews it has become an integral part of who we are. Rabbi Firestone shows us how to embrace empathy and compassion which in turn leads us to a “spiritual voice that heals and lifts our souls.” Tirzah Firestone shares ‘resonant truths that hold meaning for today.’ I might note that I do not agree with everything in the book but I am moved by much of what it says. We know that what is happening in the world today opens old wounds and brings new ones and these are issues that we must face but do not always know how to do so. If you have ever wondered if it is possible to come out of a tragedy as a stronger person, then you need to read this book. Not only can we learn to deal with trauma but we can become wiser as a result. Because trauma is painful we tend to try to bury it rather than face it head on thus causing it to enter the unconscious, and it can be passed unknowingly from generation to generation. We read the stories people who’ve suffered extreme pain, faced it head-on, and found a path to healing. These stories mellow our hearts and inspire gratitude and compassion for our fellow humans,. It is also from these stories that we find the tools to make sure the trauma stops. From the rabbi we gain the wisdom of a compassionate therapist and the spiritual perspective of a rabbi who has found her way to the deeper currents of Jewish understanding. We read of Firestone’s own family’s trauma and it is powerful in itself and empowering. We can feel how the rabbi has herself lived through trauma and has even found her way to become a great healer and teacher. While the book is addressed primarily to the Jewish experience of trauma in the twentieth century but I think it can be profound help to anyone seeking to navigate the path to healing from trauma and that is really all of us.