in liverpool england, a small act of kindness offered a better world vision: a trans woman graciously agreed to be counted for a good cause.
counting to ten, in jewish ritual practice, is something that is obsessive compulsive. orthodox jewish law requires 10 men as a quorum in order to conduct formal religious services. while individual prayer is permitted under jewish law, religious services with the quorum or minyan, is required to do the full complement of prayers and services.
before formal services start, absent a sizeable crowd, many congregants start counting the men present. there are times, unfortunately, when a minyan cannot be achieved and full services cannot happen.
in liverpool england this year, for the first day of sukkot, the princes road synagogue’s service was in jeopardy. a high holiday service would not take place as they were one man short. a trans woman, however, was present.
the synagogue’s rabbi “took into account her sensitivities.” he “asked her permission so as not to offend her [to be counted as part of the minyan]. she was fine with it.” the arrangement to have her part of the minyan was unique. the trans woman, rather than sitting in the men’s section, sat in the women’s section for the services. timesofisrael
dahlia fleming, executive director of keshet uk, stated “there’s no one model that works for every community or jewish trans person, and many communities are just starting to work this through. in the meanwhile, keshet uk really wants to see these conversations are reported sensitively and kindly, to avoid causing hurt to lgbt+ people, and to give communities and their lgbt+ members time and space to create an authentic approach that works for them.” timesofisrael in this instance, however, while there was a concern for sensitivity, there was something more important occurred. the trans woman’s presence was a positive impact on others. thus, there was cause for her to feel good about being there and participating as a valued individual.
sukkot was perhaps the apt holiday for this uncertain interaction to occur. at a holiday when individuals are asked to leave their homes to live in tents and experience living outside of their element, this human interaction as well was an experience outside the element for both the congregation and the trans woman. within this uncertainty, they opened themselves up make a positive experience which could lay a foundation for future interactions.
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