Press and Media

Press Coverage of A Rainbow Thread

  • “Review: A Rainbow Thread,” Robin Neidorf, TC Jewfolk, June 21, 2019
    “Whenever we add to our knowledge and expression of Judaism and Jewish life, we add to the value of our community. Just as feminist scholars, writers, and artists turned their rethinking of history into an entitlement for new generations of Jewish women, works like A Rainbow Thread help us close the gap between institutional Judaism and lived experience for LGBTQA+ Jews. We still have a long way to go to fully weave this thread into the tapestry of our community. Jewish history is all of our experiences; we are all entitled.”
  • “Review: A Rainbow Thread,” Sacha Lamb, Jewish Book Council Blog, June 11, 2019
    A Rainbow Thread is an aid to memory both for those who need to find themselves in the past, and those who need help understanding that expansive concepts of gender and sexuality are nothing new. This book will be a treasure on any shelf, whether in a Hebrew school, a synagogue or community center, a university library, or the home of anyone who needs to remember that the Jewish world, and the Jewish past, are full of more wonders than we can count.”
  • “Writing By, and About, Queer Jews,” Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter, May 31, 2019
    “Reading primary sources can be difficult because, at times, it’s necessary to read between the lines or know the history of the particular text in order to understand its meaning. Fortunately, Sienna includes an introduction to each text, which places it in context and offers additional biographical or historical information when available. Sometimes his comments are as interesting, if not more interesting, than the text itself.”
  • “The LGBTQ Jewish Anthology,” HBI Blog, March 8, 2018
    “Being queer and Jewish have both directed him in similar ways: towards a social orientation that pays particular attention to individuals and communities left marginalized and vulnerable; towards an appreciation of ancestry and family, both biological and chosen; and towards building a safer and more loving world for all people.”

Interviews with Noam Sienna

  • “Who the Folk? Noam Sienna,” TC Jewfolk, June 24, 2019
    “Noam talks about his book A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969, why he wrote it, some fascinating stories he learned in the research, and what’s next after he finishes his Ph.D. next year, on this week’s Who The Folk?! Podcast.”
  • “Queer Iden­ti­ty in Jew­ish His­to­ry: An Inter­view with Noam Sienna,” Jewish Book Council Blog, June 11, 2019
    “Really, this book is an excuse to get people to read primary sources from Jewish history. If the fact that it’s about lesbians or about cross-dressing stowaways or about yeshiva students sleep­ing with each oth­er gets peo­ple excit­ed to read that, great — but what’s equal­ly excit­ing to me is that this might be a con­duit for some­one to learn­ing about Jew­ish life in the Ottoman Empire, or life in colo­nial Brazil, or in medieval Iraq. The intent of this book is to broad­en the hori­zon of Jew­ish his­to­ry — in terms of sex­u­al­i­ty, gen­der, tem­po­ral­i­ty, and loca­tion. I think peo­ple might be surprised to dis­cov­er just how many areas of Jew­ish life can be enriched through the incor­po­ra­tion of these mar­gin­al­ized voices.”
  • “Queering the Jewish Bookshelf,” Judaism Unbound, Episode 170, May 17, 2019
    “[A rabbi in 1969] looked at his Jewish ‘bookshelf.’ And he said ‘I don’t see anything that deals with homosexuality.’ [He concluded] that homosexuals don’t exist in Jewish history. But the mistake that he makes is that he looks at what happens to be on his ‘bookshelf’ — the Mishnah, and Talmud, and Medieval compilations of Jewish law, all written by men, mostly written in Europe — and thinks ‘that’s everything I need to know about Judaism.’ But that bookshelf is just a sliver — the ‘1%.’ As soon as we move the spotlight over a bit, we see an entirely different picture of Judaism.”

Articles by Noam Sienna

  • “A Rainbow Thread,” Protocols, November 2019
    “The excerpts presented here offer some tastes of how we might encounter primary historical documents as a field of possibility for imagining new futures… These texts invite us into the process of constantly rereading, reimagining, and revising our understanding of what Judaism has meant, and what it can mean for us today.”
  • “A Forgotten Gay Jewish Pioneer Rises Again,” Tablet Magazine, January 2018
    ” To see a self-proclaimed gay writer engaging explicitly and thoughtfully with Judaism, and declaring both Judaism and homosexuality to be central to his sense of self, was unprecedented… Skir was certainly not the only gay activist who happened to be Jewish, but he was the only one who engaged so explicitly with his Jewishness at a time when these two identities were weaponized against each other (if connected at all).”