For lesbian Orthodox Jews, hiding is the only option

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 4, 2010 - 3:40 PM

St. Paul author Miryam Kabakov will read excerpts from her recently published book, “Keep Your Wives Away From Them.”

Most Orthodox Jewish lesbians live their lives in such secrecy that the term "deep" doesn't do it justice, St. Paul author Miryam Kabakov said. She prefers the term "subterranean."

"They risk losing everything" if they are discovered, she said. "They can lose their home, their friends, even their children."

Kabakov will tell some of their stories Thursday at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center when she reads excerpts from her recently published book, "Keep Your Wives Away From Them." The reading will be followed by a screening of the documentary "Keep Not Silent: OrthoDykes."

Before moving to the Twin Cities, where she oversees the Jewish Film Festival, Kabakov ran the New York City chapter of the support group OrthoDykes.

"The Orthodox world is no place to be gay," she said. "It's true that more and more Orthodox women are coming out [as lesbians], but it's still an entrenched system."

Being ostracized is only part of the problem, she said. They also have to struggle with reconciling their sexuality with their religion.

"You never really lose your Orthodox identity," Kabakov said. "And you don't want to lose it. It's part of your identity; it's who you are. You can remove yourself from it, but you always go back to it."

The reading will start at 7 p.m. Thursday, with the hourlong film at 8:30 p.m. A reception will follow. The JCC is at 1375 St. Paul Av., St. Paul. Tickets are $8 ($5 for members).

Services are a hit

It seems as if everybody is piggy-backing on the excitement over Target Field. Even the outdoor worship services at the Lake Harriet and Minnehaha Falls bandshells have joined in with this year's slogan: "Baseball isn't the only thing better outdors."

The format is the same as it has been for years: Neighborhood churches take turns hosting non-denominational services on Sunday mornings through Sept. 5 at Lake Harriet and through Aug. 29 at Minnehaha Falls. The Lake Harriet services are at 10 a.m., and the Minnehaha Falls ones are at 10:30 a.m. The website outdoorworship.org lists the schedule of hosting churches.

As always, attire is park-casual. Twins T-shirts would seem particularly appropriate.

Museum news No. 1

The director of the Vatican Museums is in town this weekend to help the local chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo will make two public appearances. The first is a lecture at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Av. S. At 9:30 a.m. Sunday he will celebrate mass at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis.

Museum news No. 2

One of my daughters, a senior at the University of Wisconsin majoring in religious studies, has seen both the current Science Museum of Minnesota exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls and an earlier one at the Milwaukee Public Museum. She came away saying that the St. Paul exhibit blows away the Cheesehead version in both content and presentation.

Now there are some numbers indicating that she's not the only who thinks that. As of the end of May -- less than three months into the seven-month show -- the local exhibit has passed the 100,000-visitor mark. In comparison, the Milwaukee show's entire 4 1/2-month run drew 150,000 visitors.

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392

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