The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective

Date: Nov 12, 2018 - Nov 12, 2018

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Sponsor: The Library

Location: JTS

Category: Book Talks Library Events


Monday, November 12, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

Reading some of the best-known Torah stories through the lens of transgender experience, Joy Ladin explores fundamental questions about how religious texts, traditions, and the understanding of God can be enriched by transgender perspectives, and how the Torah and trans lives can illuminate one another. Drawing on her own experience and lifelong reading practice, Ladin shows how the Torah, a collection of ancient texts that assume human beings are either male or female, speaks both to practical transgender concerns, such as marginalization, and to the challenges of living without a body or social role that renders one intelligible to others—challenges that can help us understand a God who defies all human categories. These creative, evocative readings transform our understanding of the Torah’s portrayals of God, humanity, and relationships between them.


Admission to the book talk is free, but reservations are required. Please arrive early and have photo ID available.

This event is co-sponsored by The JTS Library and the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies. Dr. Burton Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies and director of the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies, JTS will serve as moderator

PRAISE FOR Soul of the Stranger

“Joy Ladin’s Soul of the Stranger is an intellectual and spiritual journey illuminated by the audacity of faith in God. Her at first blush transgressive comparison of her own soul to God in fact follows rabbinic literature of old. Her transcendent readings of Scripture restore the luster of the revelation at Sinai. And her readers will find the work transformational to their own relationships to other humans and to God.”Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Nathan and Janet Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies, JTS


Joy Ladin is the author of The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective, published in 2018 by Brandeis University Press. Her memoir, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, was a 2012 National Jewish Book Award finalist. She has also published nine books of poetry, including Lambda Literary Award finalists Impersonation and Transmigration. Her work has been recognized with a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship and a Fulbright Scholarship, among other honors. She holds the Gottesman Chair in English at Yeshiva University.