Since I started the Orthodox conversion process over a year ago I was stunned and pleased at the affect it has had on my own gender identity. Of course most people who have known me for a significant amount of time have said something along the lines of, “but you’re a feminist, how can you be an Orthodox Jew?” These two reactions, from within myself, and those outsiders looking in, have led to be start a new project collecting oral histories (similar to a StoryCorps (storycorps.org/) style and format) from other Orthodox Converts or Baal Teshuvas who have finished their conversion, or been living an observant life for a significant amount of time.
I’m interested in recording about an hours’ worth of interviews from each participant, with the interviewee explaining how they related to their gender during their childhood, what messages they grew up with about their gender from family, society or other religions; and finally how their ideas of gender did or didn’t change during their conversion process, the good, bad and the in between. In case I ever choose to use the material for a thesis I will collect a small amount of statistical data as well and ask that you sign a release, but for now am just hoping to compile an edited audio piece.
This is open to both men and women. I will collect a small amount of statistical data along with the oral history, and participants are welcome to remain anonymous, but their voice will be recorded. I’m planning on interviewing people in the Manhattan area July 22nd – 31st. If you are interested in being interviewed you are welcome to contact me directly at:
Heshy’s Notes: I don’t understand gender identity much, I have always known I was a dude – I identify with urinals, vaginas and steamrollers (I also love wrecking balls), I also happen to know I’m a man by the fact that I like to look into holes and big pits.