Drawing Up the Voices of the Past: The Healing Power of Midrash
For many of us, Jewish tradition is one of loud silence and absent presence. We seek out the stories of women, femmes and other marginalised folk, people like ourselves, and find them missing. And yet, Jewish tradition has gifted us the practice of midrash, of imagining stories and interpretations between the lines of our texts. We can continue this tradition, as we listen out for the silences in our stories and give voice to characters named and unnamed, as well as ourselves. We will use a playful blend of text-study, creative writing, reflection and bibliodrama to give voice to our missing ancestors Participants will be encouraged to try out some creative writing or art themselves.
Week 1: Joseph… Or Josephine?
There’s a long history of reading Joseph as “feminine” within Jewish tradition (yes: that Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat was actually a princess dress). We’ll meet some of the ancient sources that explore Joseph’s gender presentation and sexual orientation, as well as how some modern day poets have claimed Joseph as a trans, queer, gender-fluid and/or gender-non-conforming ancestor.
Week 2: Serach bat Asher: The Woman Who Lived Forever
Serach, the daughter of Joseph’s brother, Asher, gets only two side-mentions in the Hebrew Bible, but there’s a whole body of stories that spun up around her: a musician, a wise-woman and a keeper of collective memory. How can a character so tiny give birth to stories so large? What other stories are waiting to be told?
Week 3: Shelomit bat Dibri: Grief, Trauma and the Will to be Heard
CW: Sexual violence, death by stoning, xenophobia, misogyny
Shelomit bat Dibri is mentioned only once, as the mother of a Half-Israelite man sentenced to death. But did Shulamit have her own story? Our rabbinic ancestors certainly gave her one, but is that the story that we would have wanted her to have? What healing might we offer this character and ourselves through creative storytelling?
Week 4: Purim Special
Let’s tell the Purim story, but not the way you’ve heard it before! What would Queens Vashti and Esther have to say for themselves in their own words? How involved was Haman’s wife Zeresh in her husband’s nefarious plot? And what about all the eunuchs and servants hiding in plain sight, the unsung heroes of this chaotic tale? Join Kohenet Yael for some seriously-silly playful-but-deep creative activities that will help us turn this already topsy-turvy-tale on its head. This evening is open to all, whether or not you have attended the full course.
© 2023 Yelala. All rights reserved.