Torah Queeries Workshop: Reading the Bible Through a “Bent Lens”

David Shneer

07/03/2010 4:00 pm

Following on the ancient tradition of interpreting the Torah portion by portion, Torah Queeries brought together some of the world’s leading rabbis, scholars, and writers to interpret the Bible through a “bent lens”.

In this exciting and provocative workshop and text study, we learnt what it means to read the text through a bent lens, how a book like this came to be, and do a one-on-one text study to show how a bent lens reveals wonders in this ancient text. We studied some of the classic verses used to oppress and alienate gays and lesbians, like the Levitical sexual prohibitions, as well as other sections like the story of Esau and Jacob, the role of the “mixed multitudes” and the building of the mishkan, texts that are being re-awakening through a “queer” reading. All of the book’s writers, and each of the participants in the workshop, brought to the table unique methods of reading that allow the Torah to speak to modern concerns.

Most powerfully, Torah Queeries charted a future of inclusion and social justice deeply rooted in the textual tradition. Partakers study, were provoked, and took part in a conversation that envisions the future.

David Shneer

David Shneer is associate professor of history and director of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver. Called a “taboo-breaking scholar” by Tikkun magazine and “a new Jewish superhero,” by Jewcy magazine. His books include Queer Jews, finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, Yiddish and the Creation of Soviet Jewish Culture, finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and New Jews: The End of the Jewish Diaspora and Through Soviet Jewish Eyes: Photography, War, and the Holocaust.