In 2008, Joy Ladin returned to her teaching position at Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish college, prepared for another academic year. The only difference? Joy, formerly Jay, returned as a woman, making her the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. She recently documented her transition in the book Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders.
Now, Philadelphians will have the chance to meet Ladin and hear about her journey at Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel’s (BZBI) new “Sicha” author series. “Sicha” means “conversation” in Hebrew, and that’s exactly what the coordinators of the lecture series hope to have, according to Adam Engle, director of programming and membership at BZBI.
“The ensuing conversations provide a nuanced discussion between author and expert and allows for deep exploration on various topics,” he says.
Attendees of Ladin’s talk can expect to hear how she balanced the often-difficult line between Orthodox Jewish faith and her gender transformation, and the “nuts-and-bolts problems of gender transition, such as how to change from female to male on the way to work, and the Jewish tradition that both clarifies and complicates the large moral, spiritual and philosophical questions raised by the mismatch between the gender of her body and the gender of her soul,” according to Engle.