Books with LGBTQIA+ Jewish Voices

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LGBTQIA+ Jewish Voices

Wishing all who celebrate a very Happy Pride Month! This month, I’ve compiled a list of 18 books celebrating the LGBTQIA+ members of the Jewish community. Our tribe is a diverse one and every member deserves representation.

Of all the articles, I’ve written like this, the LGBTQIA+ has the largest number of books. I encourage you to look beyond this list for further reading.

Join the conversation! Add your favorite titles in the comments.


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Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology edited by Evelyn T. Beck

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A stunning collection of angry, bitter, proud, and joyful writing – poetry, stories, history, analysis, autobiography – on Jewish lesbian identity. With a new section on mother/daughter relationships, new and updated material on Israel, and new poetry and photographs.

The Reluctant Daughter by Lesléa Newman

A story every daughter will recognize, The Reluctant Daughter depicts the struggles of Lydia Pinkowitz to communicate the realities of her life as a lesbian, as a feminist scholar, and as the woman she has become to her mother Doris. After years of hoping to attain her mother’s love and acceptance while struggling to live a true and honest life, Lydia eventually acknowledges her mother will never really see her. When Doris develops a life-threatening illness, Lydia is forced to make a life-and-death decision of her own: should she make one final attempt to heal her relationship with her mother or simply let her go?

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Dancing on Tisha B’Av by Lev Raphael

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Whether bearing witness to the Holocaust and its aftermath, dealing with conflicts between being gay and traditional Judaism, or confronting anti-Semitism and homophobia, these passionate stories by a prize-winning author break new ground in contemporary fiction.


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You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

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Ariel Stone has spent his life cultivating the perfect college résumé: first chair violinist, dedicated volunteer, active synagogue congregant, and expected valedictorian. He barely has time to think about a social life, let alone a relationship…until a failed calculus quiz puts his future on the line, forcing Ariel to enlist his classmate, Amir, as a tutor.

As the two spend more time together, Ariel discovers he may not like calculus, but he does like Amir. When he’s with Amir, the crushing academic pressure fades away on, and a fuller and brighter world comes into focus. But college deadlines are still looming. And adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push Ariel past his limit.

In a time where academic pressure on stressed teens couldn’t be higher, You Asked for Perfect is a story full of empathy, honesty and heart for anyone who has ever questioned the price of perfection.

Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible edited by Gregg Drinkwater, Joshua Lesser, and David Shneer


In the Jewish tradition, reading of the Torah follows a calendar cycle, with a specific portion assigned each week. These weekly portions, read aloud in synagogues around the world, have been subject to interpretation and commentary for centuries. Following on this ancient tradition, Torah Queeries brings together some of the world’s leading rabbis, scholars, and writers to interpret the Torah through a “bent lens”. With commentaries on the fifty-four weekly Torah portions and six major Jewish holidays, the concise yet substantive writings collected here open up stimulating new insights and highlight previously neglected perspectives.

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This incredibly rich collection unites the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight-allied writers, including some of the most central figures in contemporary American Judaism. All bring to the table unique methods of reading and interpreting that allow the Torah to speak to modern concerns of sexuality, identity, gender, and LGBT life. Torah Queeries offers cultural critique, social commentary, and a vision of community transformation, all done through biblical interpretation. Written to engage readers, draw them in, and, at times, provoke them, Torah Queeries examines topics as divergent as the Levitical sexual prohibitions, the experience of the Exodus, the rape of Dinah, the life of Joseph, and the ritual practices of the ancient Israelites. Most powerfully, the commentaries here chart a future of inclusion and social justice deeply rooted in the Jewish textual tradition.

A labor of intellectual rigor, social justice, and personal passions, Torah Queeries is an exciting and important contribution to the project of democratizing Jewish communities, and an essential guide to understanding the intersection of queerness and Jewishness.

Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher

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The story begins in an Israeli military jail, where—four days after his nineteenth birthday—Jonathan stares up at the fluorescent lights of his cell and recalls the series of events that led him there.

Two years earlier: Moving back to Israel after several years in Pennsylvania, Jonathan is ready to fight to preserve and defend the Jewish state. But he is also conflicted about the possibility of having to monitor the occupied Palestinian territories, a concern that grows deeper and more urgent when he meets Nimreen and Laith—the twin daughter and son of his mother’s friend.

From that morning on, the three become inseparable: wandering the streets on weekends, piling onto buses toward new discoveries, laughing uncontrollably. They share joints on the beach, trading snippets of poems, intimate secrets, family histories, resentments, and dreams. But with his draft date rapidly approaching, Jonathan wrestles with the question of what it means to be proud of your heritage, while also feeling love for those outside of your own family. And then that fateful day arrives, the one that lands Jonathan in prison and changes his relationship with the twins forever.

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Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

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When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she’s isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (as well as her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

It’s a Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish Stories edited by Katherine Locke, Laura Silverman, forward by Mayim Bialik

Get ready to fall in love, experience heartbreak, and discover the true meaning of identity in this poignant collection of short stories about Jewish teens, including entries by David Levithan, Nova Ren Suma, and more!

A Jewish boy falls in love with a fellow counselor at summer camp. A group of Jewish friends take the trip of a lifetime. A girl meets her new boyfriend’s family over Shabbat dinner. Two best friends put their friendship to the test over the course of a Friday night. A Jewish girl feels pressure to date the only Jewish boy in her grade. Hilarious pranks and disaster ensue at a crush’s Hanukkah party.

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From stories of confronting their relationships with Judaism to rom-coms with a side of bagels and lox, It’s a Whole Spiel features one story after another that says yes, we are Jewish, but we are also queer, and disabled, and creative, and political, and adventurous, and anything we want to be. You will fall in love with this insightful, funny, and romantic Jewish anthology from a collection of diverse Jewish authors.

Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight

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Nell Barber, an expelled PhD candidate in biological science, is exploring the fine line between poison and antidote, working alone to set a speed record for the detoxification of poisonous plants. Her mentor, Dr. Joan Kallas, is the hero of Nell’s heart. Nell frequently finds herself standing in the doorway to Joan’s office despite herself, mesmerized by Joan’s elegance, success, and spiritual force. 

Surrounded by Nell’s ex, her best friend, her best friend’s boyfriend, and Joan’s buffoonish husband, the two scientists are tangled together at the center of a web of illicit relationships, grudges, and obsessions. All six are burdened by desire and ambition, and as they collide on the university campus, their attractions set in motion a domino effect of affairs and heartbreak. 

Meanwhile, Nell slowly fills her empty apartment with poisonous plants to study, and she begins to keep a series of notebooks, all dedicated to Joan. She logs her research and how she spends her days, but the notebooks ultimately become a painstaking map of love. In a dazzling and unforgettable voice, Rebecca Dinerstein Knight has written a spellbinding novel of emotional and intellectual intensity.

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Echo After Echo by A. R. Capetta

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Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater — and then another — especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole — and cast lantern light on two young women, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

Disobedience by Naomi Alderman

A small, close-knit Orthodox Jewish community in London is the setting for a revealing look at religion and sexuality in Alderman’s frank yet heartfelt debut novel, Disobedience. The story begins with the death of the community’s esteemed rabbi, which sets in motion plans for a memorial service and the search for a replacement. The rabbi’s nephew and likely successor, Dovid, calls his cousin Ronit in New York to tell her that her father has died. Ronit, who left the community long ago to build a life for herself as a career woman, returns home when she hears the news, and her reappearance exposes tears in the fabric of the community.

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Steeped in Jewish philosophy and teachings, Disobedience is a perceptive and thoughtful exploration of the laws and practices that have governed Judaism for centuries, and continue to hold sway today. Throughout the novel, Alderman retells stories from the Torah — Judaism’s fundamental source — and the interplay between these tales and the struggles of the novel’s unique characters wields enormous power and wisdom, and will surely move readers to tears.

Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

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Andre Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.

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Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

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Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Dahlia Adler’s Cool for the Summer is a story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.

Boxer, Beetle by Ned Beauman

Kevin “Fishy” Broom has his nickname for a reason: he has a rare genetic condition that makes him smell markedly like rotting fish. Consequently, he rarely ventures out of the London apartment where he deals online in Nazi memorabilia. But when Fishy stumbles upon a crime scene, he finds himself on the long-cold trail of a pair of small-time players in interwar British history. First, there’s Philip Erskine, a fascist gentleman entomologist who dreams of breeding an indomitable beetle as tribute to Reich Chancellor Hitler’s glory, all the while aspiring to arguably more sinister projects in human eugenics. And then there’s Seth “Sinner” Roach, a homosexual Jewish boxer, nine-toed, runtish, brutish–but perfect in his way–who becomes an object of obsession for Erskine, professionally and most decidedly otherwise. What became of the boxer? What became of the beetle? And what will become of anyone who dares to unearth the answers?

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Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community edited by Noach Dzmura

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While the Jewish mainstream still argues about homosexuality, transgender and gender-variant people have emerged as a distinct Jewish population and as a new chorus of voices. Inspired and nurtured by the successes of the feminist and LGBT movements in the Jewish world, Jews who identify with the “T” now sit in the congregation, marry under the chuppah, and create Jewish families. Balancing on the Mechitza offers a multifaceted portrait of this increasingly visible community.

The contributors—activists, theologians, scholars, and other transgender Jews—share for the first time in a printed volume their theoretical contemplations as well as rite-of-passage and other transformative stories. Balancing on the Mechitza introduces readers to a secular transwoman who interviews her Israeli and Palestinian peers and provides cutting-edge theory about the construction of Jewish personhood in Israel; a transman who serves as legal witness for a man (a role not typically open to persons designated female at birth) during a conversion ritual; a man deprived of testosterone by an illness who comes to identify himself with passion and pride as a Biblical eunuch; and a gender-variant person who explores how to adapt the masculine and feminine pronouns in Hebrew to reflect a non-binary gender reality.

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All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad

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After Maggie Krause’s mother dies suddenly in a car crash, Maggie finds five sealed envelopes with her will, each addressed to a mysterious man she’s never heard of. Maggie and her mother, Iris, weren’t close, especially since Maggie came out, but she never thought they would run out of time to figure each other out. Now in her late twenties, Maggie is finally in something resembling a serious relationship, wondering if some of whatever shaped her parents’ decades-long love story might exist after all.

Overwhelmed by her grief and frustrated with her family, Maggie decides to escape the shiva and hand-deliver her mother’s letters. The ensuing road trip takes her over miles of California highways, through strangers’ recollections of a second, hidden life (that seems almost impossible to reconcile with the Iris she knew), and a journey through her own fears as she navigates her new relationship. As she fills in the details of Iris’s story, Maggie must confront the possibility that almost everything she knew about her mother — her marriage, her lukewarm relationship to Judaism, her disapproval of her daughter’s queerness — is more meaningful than she ever allowed herself to imagine.

A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969 edited by Noam Sienna

For many queer Jews, Jewish tradition seems like a rich tapestry which at best ignores them and at worst rejects them entirely. In reality, queerness and queer Judaism have been a constant subplot of Jewish history, if only we care to look.

Spanning almost two millennia and containing translations from more than a dozen languages, Noam Sienna’s new book, A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts From the First Century to 1969, collects for the first time more than a hundred sources on the intersection of Jewish and queer identities.

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Covering poetry, drama, literature, law, midrash, and memoir, this anthology suggests that Jewish texts are not just obstacles to be overcome in the creation of queer Jewish life, but also potential resources waiting to be excavated. Through an unprecedented examination of the histories of gender and sexuality over two millennia of Jewish life around the world, this book inspires and challenges its readers to create a better future through a purposeful reflection on our past.

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