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By David Shneer
I knew I only had five days in London, one of the most exciting
cities in the world. What I learned after my whirlwind tour of
contemporary London Jewish life is that the city is also one of the most
exciting Jewish cities in the world.
After a potluck vegetarian meal everyone was invited to share a reading
related to the theme of connecting with your Jewishness. I shared my
favorite passages from Martin Buber’s I-Thou.
Poets and playwrights read, musicians and singers sang (in this case,
in French, because of course this was a multi-culti, multi-lingual,
pan-European, American expat, Israeli, British group of Jews), and
several people told stories about their alienation from or connection to
contemporary Jewish life.
It was at Wandering Jews that I finally met the fabulous Mekella Bromberg, assistant director of London’s Jewish Book Festival and the person who brought me to London to present the book I recently co-edited, Torah Queeries.
During the dinner, I received an unexpected phone call, from the BBC World Service,
which wanted me on a Sunday morning radio show to talk about queer
interpretations of the Bible. Queer Bible on BBC World Service? How odd
and exciting. I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous. The only other time I
had been on Sunday morning talk radio was in 2002, when I was invited
to do a program about my book Queer Jews (do you notice a theme?).
Come to Nehirim's Queer Shabbaton New York!
October 29-31, 2010
That call-in program had drawn from a local American audience, and
you can imagine the kind of callers who are listening to the radio on
Sunday at 7am--church-goers wondering if I knew I was going to hell (I
guess double hell for being gay and Jewish), and one meek- voiced man,
whom we all thought was going to come out on radio. BBC World Service
speaks live to the whole world, a fact the producer emphasized to me
over and over in preparing for the interview. After doing the time-zone
math, I realized that I would be speaking to British expats in India,
diplomats in Kenya, and factory owners in China…about queer
interpretations of the Hebrew Bible.
I didn’t get a full 15 minutes the way Andy Warhol promised, but it was a
fantastic experience, even though the two interviewers sensationalized Torah Queeries by asking if there might be death threats against the editors for blaspheming the Holy Book. (If only…it might improve sales!)
This article was reprinted with permission from MyJewishLearning.com.