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The groundbreaking anthology Queer Jews (Routledge, 2002) centered the voices of over two dozen LGBTQ Jews who were re-envisioning American Jewish culture by creating new communities and making room for themselves as openly, unapologetically queer and Jewish. Queer Jews highlighted the bold voices of a generation of LGBTQ Jews creating new models of inclusion that spoke to the needs of all marginalized Jews. It captured a moment in Jewish history, when queer theory, feminism, and lived experience combined to bring about revolutionary ways of understanding Jewish tradition and innovation.
The anthology’s editors, Caryn Aviv and David Shneer, were themselves part of that revolution, as scholars of Jewish culture, activists for social change, and visionary Jewish professionals. Aviv’s and Shneer’s work and lives exemplified a new vision of Jewish spirituality, communal and familial structure, and cultural engagement. After many years in academia and serving as the co-founder and director of several Jewish communal organizations, Aviv was ordained in January 2020 as a rabbi. Sadly, in November 2020, Shneer, a beloved professor at the University of Colorado and former director of that university’s program in Jewish studies, died at the age of forty-eight.
Now, twenty years after the initial publication of Queer Jews, the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion is hosting a symposium in honor of the role the book played in re-imagining the American and global Jewish worlds, and in memory of David’s many gifts and contributions to queer Jewish life.
- David’s husband, Gregg Drinkwater, himself a notable scholar of Jewish and queer history and the former director of a national Jewish LGBTQ advocacy group, will open the day with reflections on the book and on Sheer’s life.
- Most of the original contributors to the anthology will then speak about how queer Jewish life has changed in the last twenty years, while also offering thoughts and visions for the future.
- The day will close with a tribute to Shneer, as well as two other contributors to the anthology who are no longer with us, Inbal Kashtan and Oscar Wolfman. Their memories are our blessing.