“Uncovered” and Selichot Havdalah, Saturday 9/5
Beth Chayim Chadashim opens the Days of Awe season with an exceptional Shabbat event.
Join Rabbi Lisa Edwards, Rabbi Heather Miller and Cantor Juval Porat for a musical service and study as we begin our celebration of the Jewish New Year, Days of Awe. Prior to the service, Leah Lax, the author of “Uncovered,” an acclaimed autobiographical account of a Hasidic woman who leaves the community and then has to adapt to the outside world, will read excerpts and lead a discussion.
We will begin at 5pm (doors open at 4:30) with a conversation and reading with writer Leah Lax about her new book UNCOVERED: How I left Hasidic life and finally came home. Poignant, moving, ultimately redemptive —UNCOVERED is a beautifully written and brave memoir by a longtime lesbian who hid from herself and the world until she couldn’t anymore. We will talk with Leah from the point of view of Selichot — can and how does one forgive oneself and others and move into a truer life?
Our time with Leah Lax (inc.book signing, if you want to purchase a copy) will be followed by a potluck veggie dinner at 6pm.
And then at 7pm, a music-filled and reflective havdalah and Selichot service with BCC’s Cantor Juval Porat and Rabbis Lisa Edwards and Heather Miller (7pm-8:30pm), introducing music (with Cellist Isaac Takeuchi) thoughts, & prayers for the Days of Awe.
“Uncovered speaks with authority of years of female silence in a religious world, living like a tool for others.” – Leah Lax.
Another day, another midnight, I edge open the back door and try to make sure it doesn’t creak. I put the car into neutral and slide down the drive with the driver’s side door ajar. Once in the street, I ease the door closed and start the motor so that I could be anyone, a passing car that stalled, a Hasidic mother escaping to her lesbian lover.
Hands on the wheel, foot on the pedal, I have no thought, no sense of moral outrage, no nausea about my subterfuge or about any of the other fruitless duplicities that will come. I won’t let myself imagine the betrayal that will linger in my children’s eyes for years. Soon, I will tell myself that I do this as a matter of survival, pikuach nefesh, that like Levi scrubbing his hands even on the Sabbath when he had cancer, the Law stipulates that survival supersedes the Law. I will soothe myself with this justification even though I have had little regard for the Law outside of our home for some time. That’s how I will feel, when I can finally think, that I go to Jane to survive.
But right now, as I roll through the sleeping Hasidic neighborhood, there’s only a reptilian kind of instinct propelling me forward, a body scream. I hide the car in Jane’s garage and let myself in her back door with her key, into the house where she now lives alone. Inside the door, I pull off the scarf, shake out my hair. Through the kitchen, the dark still den, down the hall, fingertips along a stippled wall. I peel off all my clothes, let them fall on the carpet in a pile, slide into her warm sheets and pull her sleeping body against my form. She wakes and turns to me, takes me in her arms.
There in her arms, I cry. For Levi (which she doesn’t appreciate). For lost years. For thinking I could live without knowing the simple peace of . . . this: Warm bodies that echo one another. Steady breath on my hair in the night. Silent, constant warmth roused to electric in the morning, then back to tandem being before I slip out for home just after sunrise.