Archive for the ‘How Would You Like It If Someone Called You Names?’ Category

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s A Gay, Jewish ‘Superhero’

February 5, 2013

This article was first published in The Times of Israel.

The Purim Superhero

Nate doesn’t know what type of costume to choose for Purim. His friends are all dressing up as superheroes, but Nate loves aliens and wants to go as one to the Megillah reading and holiday carnival. Like most young children, he decides to discuss his dilemma with his parents. But unlike most kids, Nate doesn’t bring the problem to his mother and father. Instead, he talks it over with his Daddy and Abba.

Nate is the protagonist of “The Purim Superhero,” the first LGBT-inclusive Jewish children’s book written in English. The little boy, his sister and their two dads represent many American Jewish families who — until now — have not seen themselves reflected in the picture books their children read in Hebrew school or bring home from the Jewish community library.

Kar-Ben Publishing, a Minneapolis-based distributor of Jewish content for kids between preschool and middle school, decided it was time to bring Nate and his gay fathers into Jewish homes and educational settings.

“We had been interested for a long time in this subject. We’d done focus groups with parents and educators, and most were interested in seeing a book like this,” said Joni Sussman, Kar-Ben‘s publisher.

“What we wanted was a story with a gay family setting, but not specifically about being a gay family. We were looking for something non-didactic about the gay issue,” Sussman explained. “What we loved about ‘The Purim Superhero’ is that it is about a boy looking for his own identity and standing up for who he is. It’s really a story about Purim and Queen Esther.”

As a married lesbian with a 12-year-old daughter, the book’s author, Elisabeth Kushner, found being a same-sex family to be a non-issue.

“I wanted to write out of my own experience and that of other gay and lesbian families we know,” the 46-year-old told The Times of Israel by phone from her home in Vancouver, Canada. “It’s really not an issue for kids or for most people in larger cities. And for kids in LGBT families, their parents’ being gay is not necessarily the main issue in their lives, and I hadn’t seen any books reflecting this reality.”

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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


Italian Soccer Star Taunted By Racist Fans

June 12, 2012

This post first appeared on The Shmooze blog at the Forward.

As many had feared, racism has reared its ugly head at Euro 2012. Italian football star Mario Balotelli was subjected to non-stop verbal abuse during the Italy-Spain match earlier this week at the Arena Gdansk in Poland.

The Mirror reported that 300 Spanish fans made monkey chants at Balotelli, and that the stewards (ushers) thought this was “funny.” A sports photographer who was on the scene said, “I was sat behind the goal with all the Spanish fans behind me and they were involved in monkey chanting and laughter and mockery whenever Balotelli was on the ball.”

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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Hip-Hop Artist Y-Love Comes Out As Gay

May 15, 2012

This post first appeared on The Shmooze blog at the Forward.

Y-Love, the 34-year-old ex-Hasidic hip-hop artist, came out as gay in an interview with Out magazine published today.

Y-Love, also known as Yitz Jordan, was briefly married to a Jewish woman, tried reparative therapy and lived a double-life for many years. But now he is announcing to the world that he is gay so that he can live and date openly as a homosexual, with the aim of finding the right guy to marry.

Click here to read more. 

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.