“In the beginning She created the heaven and the earth.” Yes, you read that sentence correctly.
Thus begins a new version of the Torah.
We have a traditional of playing with text. Poets pen new translations; scholars use archaeological discoveries to emend – or at least comment on- ancient texts. Prayers are updated to reflect modern times and sensibilities.
Beit Toratah is a new multi-year project undertaking the task of regendering the entire Hebrew Torah. Each male reference will be changed to female from the tetragram (yud-hey-vav-hey) to the lowly serpent(ess), sons to daughters and vice versa. The regendering affects not only words, but also concepts which needed to be changed to reflect a feminine perspective.
So, in the spirit of Marcia Falk’s The book of blessings: new Jewish prayers for daily life, the Sabbath, and the new moon festival, a feminist version of some traditional liturgy ,comes Toratah, a regendered Torah.
As we begin the Torah cycle again, you may find Beit Toratah’s website interesting/ annoying/ scandalous/ enlightening/ off-putting/blasphemous/ creative or more. In the group’s words, “Beit Toratah (HerTorah) is the house of study and ritual for the Regendered Bible. Beit Toratah was inaugurated on Simchat Torah day, October 11, 2020, with a service led by Romemu Rabbi Mira Rivera and Rabbi Emily Cohen. Beit Toratah aims to lead by example Jewish study and ritual expressed entirely in women’s body language. “ You’ll find more here: www.beittoratah.org.
On Sunday, October 3, at 12 Noon, Beit Toratah will make public the Hebrew version of the regendered Bereishit. Click here to register for this event.
The site also includes some audio clips of regendered texts, beautifully sung by Shlomit Levi and Emily Cohen. Use this link to access the recordings.
There is lots of food for thought on the website and in the concept.
A recording of a discussion held on September 27 will be available shortly.
Read these articles from the Jewish press for an explanation of the project’s philosophy and method and the genesis of the project.
Creating a regendered Torah (Jewish Standard, April 21, 2021)
I reversed the genders of every person in the Torah — and it finally feels complete (Forward, September 27, 2021)