Homosexuality, Transsexuality, Psychoanalysis and Traditional Judaism: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Homosexuality, Transsexuality, Psychoanalysis and Traditional Judaism

1st Edition

Edited by Alan Slomowitz, Alison Feit


334 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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Homosexuality, Transsexuality, Psychoanalysis and Traditional Judaism explores the often incommensurable and irreconcilable beliefs and understandings of sexuality and gender in the Orthodox Jewish community from psychoanalytic, rabbinic, feminist, and queer perspectives. The book explores how seemingly irreconcilable differences might be resolved.  

The book is divided into two separate but related sections. The first highlights the divide between the psychoanalytic, academic, and traditional Orthodox Jewish perspectives on sexual identity and orientation, and the acute psychic and social challenges faced by gay and lesbian members of the Orthodox Jewish world. The contributors ask us to engage with them in a dialogue that allows for authentic conversation.

The second section focuses on gender identity, especially as experienced by the Orthodox transgender members of the community. It also highlights the divide between theories that see gender as fluid and traditional Judaism that sees gender as strictly binary. The contributors write about their views and experiences from both sides of the divide. They ask us to engage in true authentic dialogue about these complex and crucial emotional and religious challenges. 

Homosexuality, Transsexuality, Psychoanalysis and Traditional Judaism will be of great interest to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists as well as members and leaders of Jewish communities working with LGBTQ issues.


"Between these covers, psychoanalysts, feminists, rabbis, and a variety of writers on queer life and theory enter into a crucial, luminous, and downright astonishing conversation with one another. Who would have thought that such a project could be accomplished? Slomowitz and Feit, the editors, bring together a group of wonderful writers who, in turn, bring their clinical, theoretical, and spiritual resources to bear on questions that have never before been simultaneously considered. This is a work of the greatest social and moral imagination. Those who are directly involved with the issues addressed will read the book and profit from it; and so will we all."-Donnel B. Stern, Ph.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, William Alanson White Institute, New York City; Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychology and Clinical Consultant, New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

"In this wise and compassionate book, an ancient religious and hermeneutical tradition engages a very current dilemma, one that is shattering traditional assumptions about identity. It brings together psychoanalytic, rabbinic, feminist, and queer voices in addressing sex and gender in the Orthodox Jewish community; but, obviously its implications are relevant to a much larger community. The lead editor, Alan Slomowitz, an interpersonal psychoanalyst and an orthodox Jew, in the very best of both traditions, sets the tone for the subsequent chapters, exploring the conflictual and painful issues involved, without recourse to glib solutions. I heartily recommend this book. It will be of great interest to anyone, professional or lay, attempting to come to terms with our socio-cultural upheaval."-Edgar Levenson, M.D., Fellow Emeritus, Training. Supervisory Analyst and Faculty William Alanson White Institute; Honorary Member, American Psychoanalytic Association; Life Fellow, American Academy of Psychoanalysis; Distinguished Life Fellow, American Psychiatric Association; 2006 Mary S. Sigourney Award winner; author of Fallacy of Understanding; The Ambiguity of Change; The Purloined Self; and Interpersonal Psychoanalysis and the Enigma of Consciousness

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Overview by Alan Slomowitz, Ph.D. Preface by Alison Feit, Ph.D. Author BiographiesSection I: Sexual Identity, Psychoanalysis and Traditional Judaism Preface to Section I: Moving the Conversation Along by Jack Drescher, M.D. Introduction to Section I: Sexual Identity, Psychoanalysis, and Traditional Judaism by Alan Slomowitz, Ph.D. 1 Does God Make Referrals? Orthodox Judaism and Homosexuality Alan Slomowitz, Ph.D. and Alison Feit, Ph.D. 2 Collateral Damage in the Battle to Change Sexual Orientation Mark J. Blechner, Ph.D. 3 Discussion of "Does God Make Referrals?": Orthodox Judaism and Homosexuality" Ronnie Lesser, Ph.D. 4 The Challenges Faced by LGBTQ Orthodox Jews: An Orthodox Response Rabbi Mark Dratch, LMSW 5 Pastoral Counseling and LGBTQ Orthodox Jews Michelle Friedman, M.D. 6 Gay Jewish Men in the Orthodox Jewish Community: Striving for Selfhood Jeremy Novich, Psy.D. 7 The Parents Are Our Future: Orthodox Communities' Openness to their LGBT Members Miryam Kabakov, LMSW 8 Envisioning an Orthodox Gay Wedding: A Jewish Ritual of Same-Sex Union and an Inquiry into the Meanings of Marriage Rabbi Steven Greenberg 9 "Women Known for These Acts": A Review of the Jewish Laws of Lesbians Elaine Chapnik, J.D. Section II: Gender Identity, Psychoanalysis, and Traditional Judaism Introduction to Section II by Alan Slomowitz, Ph.D. 10 The Dynamic Development of Gender Variability Anne Fausto-Sterling, Ph.D. 11 Negotiating Gendered Religious Practices Among Transgender Jews with an Orthodox Jewish Background: Summary of Findings Oriol Poveda, Ph.D. 12 Genocide, Transsexuality, the Limits of Coherence, and the Radiance of the Universe Benjamin M. Baader, Ph.D. 13 Border Crossings: Commentary on Dr. Ben Baader's Paper Seth Aronson, Psy.D. 14 Knowing the Soul of the Stranger Joy Ladin, Ph.D. 15 Rabbinic and Halakhic Discourse on Sex-Change Surgery and Gender Definition Hillel Gray, Ph.D. 16 Orthodox Judaism and its Transgender Members Rabbi Hayim Shaffner, LCSW Index

About the Editors

Alan Slomowitz, Ph.D., is a supervisor of psychotherapy and on the faculty at the William Alanson White Institute. He is on the Editorial Board of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and an internet editor of the Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Action blog. He edited Interpersonal Psychoanalysis and the Enigma of Consciousness (2018) by Edgar Levenson and the new Routledge release of Levenson’s book The Purloined Self (2016). He is in private practice in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in New York City, USA.

Alison Feit, Ph.D., teaches at Stony Brook University, St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, and at the China American Psychoanalytic Alliance. She is an associate editor of the journal Contemporary Psychoanalysis and a member of the Artist Group, the Sexual Abuse Service, and the Trauma Service at the William Alanson White Institute in New York. She maintains a private practice in Manhattan, New York City, USA.

About the Series

Psychoanalysis in a New Key Book Series

When music is played in a new key, the melody does not change, but the notes that make up the composition do: change in the context of continuity, continuity that perseveres through change. Psychoanalysis in a New Key publishes books that share the aims psychoanalysts have always had, but that approach them differently. The books in the series are not expected to advance any particular theoretical agenda, although to this date most have been written by analysts from the Interpersonal and Relational orientations.

The most important contribution of a psychoanalytic book is the communication of something that nudges the reader’s grasp of clinical theory and practice in an unexpected direction. Psychoanalysis in a New Key creates a deliberate focus on innovative and unsettling clinical thinking. Because that kind of thinking is encouraged by exploration of the sometimes surprising contributions to psychoanalysis of ideas and findings from other fields, Psychoanalysis in a New Key particularly encourages interdisciplinary studies. Books in the series have married psychoanalysis with dissociation, trauma theory, sociology, and criminology. The series is open to the consideration of studies examining the relationship between psychoanalysis and any other field – for instance, biology, literary and art criticism, philosophy, systems theory, anthropology, and political theory.

But innovation also takes place within the boundaries of psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalysis in a New Key therefore also presents work that reformulates thought and practice without leaving the precincts of the field. Books in the series focus, for example, on the significance of personal values in psychoanalytic practice, on the complex interrelationship between the analyst’s clinical work and personal life, on the consequences for the clinical situation when patient and analyst are from different cultures, and on the need for psychoanalysts to accept the degree to which they knowingly satisfy their own wishes during treatment hours, often to the patient’s detriment.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health
RELIGION / Judaism / Orthodox