“Queer Jewish Notions” by Amy Soule— Rereading the Hebrew Bible

queer Jewish notions

Soule, Amy. “Queer Jewish Notions”, iUniverse, 2016.

Rereading the Hebrew Bible

Amos Lassen

I probably would never have heard about Amy Soule’s “Queer Jewish Notions, had a friend not told me about it and now I want to take that a bit further and tell you about it. It is a small book but very large in scope. In the Jewish religion, every week we read a portion of the Torah that recounts the history of the Jewish people from the beginnings through the entry into the land of Israel after forty years in of wanderings. The texts are straightforward histories but they also leave room for interpretation and discussion. It is through interpretation that Amy Soule adds a queer eyes to the writings and in each of the portions, we get a new look at old texts. Her message here is “Contrary to anything you may have heard at synagogue or home, let alone through random encounters on the street, God loves you, no matter whom Ze created you to love. Hir love is apparent through every part of the Torah, from B’reishit to V’Zot HaBrachah and everything in between.” Notice the pronouns here.

By reading these stories with a gay gaze, see the familiar in a new way. I have always felt that exploring is not only an intellectual exercise but great fun and still to this day, I study for an hour each and every day and each time I do, I find something I had not seen before. There are so many aspects of reading the Torah, that it is always possible to miss something that might be very important personally to the reader. Soule offers us short interpretations that are both informative and have a lot to think about.

This is not a scholarly study—it was written by one of us and for me that makes it unique and fun to read. Many times we get verbose commentaries on the writings that for whatever reason do not knock us out. I cannot tell you how many times I have thought the rabbis who wrote commentaries to be stiff and focused only in one direction. Amy Soule changes that direction and does so beautifully.

Considering the Torah from a queer perspective, reveals it to be “a positive and supportive love letter from God for GLBT Jews”.

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