Tikkun Olam at Temple Beth Am

Connecting our congregation to social action opportunities

A journey through the wilderness

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Every Passover we relive the exodus from mitzrayim, a narrow or confining place, so that we can appreciate what it means to be free. For some it’s a history lesson; for many of us it is a powerful metaphor for the often difficult and arduous journey of self-discovery.

This month there are several opportunities to hear Yiscah Smith describe a courageous journey – one that led him away from Torah and finally led her back.

Born in a male body, Yiscah wrestled with gender identity until finally, as she describes it:

All I could do on my 50th birthday was to resolve to make a change. Realizing that every second that I continued to breathe air into my male body was a lie, I understood that I must finally make a choice. I could just stop breathing, or I could own my gender identity issues and discover what it would take to become the woman I always knew I was meant to be. Continuing with the lie that was my life was no longer an option. I was exhausted. The daily struggle of living that lie had pulled me apart.

The decision 10 years earlier to leave a Torah based life was heart wrenching and plunged me into a place of painful loneliness and despair.

Right then, on July 03, 2001, I took a “leap of faith,” catapulting past the strangling, suffocating demons wringing the life out of me. At that very moment, I embarked on my gender transition journey, not knowing where it would take me, what I would have to leave behind, or what I would need to reclaim from my past in order to be truly whole. By trying to live someone else’s life and not living an honest one for all those years, I became distanced from the One source of strength and nourishment I had always counted on to keep me sane – my relationship with G-d.

That excerpt is from Yiscah’s autobiography-in-progress, and she is looking for financial support to allow her to finish the project. There will be four parlor readings in December at which Yiscah will read excerpts from her book. If you are interested in learning more, and possibly contributing to the fund, you can RSVP to one of these events:

    Dec. 01, Sat. evening, 7:30pm
    Mick Ostroff & Cherie Hershman and Iris Brumer
    7332 55th Ave NE
    Seattle, WA 98115
    RSVP to: che30_1999@yahoo.com or 206-617-4066

    Dec. 08, Sat. evening, 7:30pm
    Steve and Nance Adler
    2523 NE 120th St.
    Seattle, WA 98125
    RSVP to: nance@nanceandsteve.com or 206-972-0523

    Dec. 16, Sun. afternoon, 3:00pm
    Sam and Sharon Perlin
    3829 NE 97th St.
    Seattle, WA 98125
    RSVP to: sharonperlin@gmail.com or 206-450-9174

    Dec. 23, Sun. afternoon, 4:30pm
    Steve Sarkowsky and Stacy Lawson
    819 West Lee
    Seattle, WA 98119
    RSVP to: slawson7@gmail.com or 206-999-6274

Yiscah will also be speaking this spring at a TBA Sunday Morning Forum on “Transgender 101,” as part of our Welcoming Synagogues Project.

One thought on “A journey through the wilderness

  1. Thanks for informing us about these opportunities to learn about Yiscah’s journey.

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