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2013 GILBERTO CASTAÑEDA LECTURE

Dying Real: Jewish Burial Cutsoms and Gender Variant Bodies
Delivered by Noach Dzmura

On March 27, 2013 Castenada lecturer Noach Dzmura spoke about present day Jewish burial customs across the spectrum of Jewish practice in the United States. In particular he focused on the burial society or chevra kadisha in Hebrew transliteration, and on the ritual washing practice called tahara. In Jewish tradition, it is customary for men to prepare men's bodies for burial, and women to prepare the bodies of women. What happens when the deceased was intersex? transsexual? Transgender with only 'top surgery'? Genderqueer?  Because of their different ways of relating to Jewish legal traditions or halacha, conservative communities are restricted from moving away from tradition, while liberal communities are not. Dzmura spoke to some of the issues that arise in these communities when transgender people express the desire to "Die Real" -- honoring in death the life choices they have made, as well as the bodies that have lived those choices.

About the Speaker: Noach Dzmura

Noach Dzmura, is a graduate of the Graduate Theological Union, editor of the Lambda Literary Award winning anthology, Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community (2010), Director of the non-profit, Jewish Transitions, and an adjunct instructor for Starr King School for the Ministry, where he also serves as Director of Educational Technology and Executive Assistant to the Provost and the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice at the University of San Francisco.