Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-09-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Lesbian author recalls time among the Hasidim
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Matt Simonette
2015-11-10

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Leah Lax, a lesbian author who spent three decades living in a Hasidic Jewish community, often refers to herself as a "cultural immigrant."

"When I was living in that community, it was like living in a moveable glass box," said Lax, who lives in Houston. "I could see everyone but it wasn't like they were three-dimensional people. … When I left the Hasidic community, for example, I didn't think the internet was relevant. I didn't know how to tip in a restaurant. Because of the highly-gendered division of responsibilities in our home, I didn't know how to pay taxes or buy insurance, sign a lease or buy a car. I was very much a greenhorn, but the thing was, I had just 'arrived' in my own country."

Lax wrote about her experiences living among the Hasidim, making the decision to leave and coming out, in the biography Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home.

She became attracted to the Hasidic community in her late teens, she said. Her attraction was twofold; the first reason was adolescent rebellion against her upbringing as a secular Jew. The second reason, Lax realizes now, was that she was attracted to the homoeroticism that was such an intrinsic part of Hasidic life.

"Any fundamentalist community, particularly the Hasidim, separates the men and women and they become intimate with one another," she recalled. "The men would dance together—they'd put their arms around each other and dance themselves into ecstasy. They sang together and kissed one another. The women were always in each other's intimate spaces, ostensibly to help and support each other. They weren't allowed to use birth control and their creative avenues were cut off."

Lax was married at age 19 and is the mother of seven children. She began to have severe doubts about her life shortly after having her seventh child, who was born prematurely.

"I brought a four-pound baby home from the hospital, and I now had seven in the house," she said. "The oldest was barely ten and I had two babies. I was exhausted and the baby had to be nursed every hour and a half, around the clock. There was no 'place' to sleep."

Within three months, Lax was pregnant again. She pleaded with her husband to let her have an abortion. He reluctantly agreed, and the couple had to get approval from their rabbi. The episode planted seeds in Lax's mind; she questioned why she was going to an authority figure for permission to do something that involved her own body. She began journaling in secret, printing the pages each night before erasing them from her computer and hiding them. During that time she began to come to terms with being a lesbian as well. Finally, she left her husband.

Lax spent seven years writing Uncovered. Gloria Steinem, whom she met at a writer's retreat in Oregon, helped Lax shape the book towards its final form. "She gave me books to read. She really played the goddess, except that she was real," Lax said.

Lax has admitted that's she's skeptical of religion or anything leading to groupthink. She said she especially delights in being able to hang out with men, too.

"I'll never immerse myself in religion again, and I'm pretty suspect of any group that wants you to," she explained. "But Judaism is weird, because it's a religion that's wrapped around a very strong ethnic identity, and they're connected. … Several times a year, I find myself back in the synagogue."

Lax added that she eventually married a woman who converted to Judaism. "I was in the door walking out, when she walking in," she said.

Lax will read from and discuss the book Wed., Nov. 18, at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St., at 7:30 p.m.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

NATIONAL Lambda Litfest, #BiWeek, whistleblower, Equality Awards, Blade 2020-09-21 - The 4th annual Lambda Litfest ( Oct. 5-9 ) has been transformed into a specially curated, virtual event celebrating Black LGBTQIA+ excellence and ...


Gay News

WORLD Barbados items, EU's criticism, Billie Jean King, Equality Act 2020-09-21 - Barbados is ready to grant legal status to same-sex couples, in a major breakthrough for gay rights lobbying in the Caribbean Community ( ...


Gay News

Red Stars rout Sky Blue 4-1 2020-09-21 - In a National Women's Soccer League match, the Chicago Red Stars had three different players score as they defeated Sky Blue FC 4-1 ...


Gay News

Local musician/comic Becky Raisman aims to show passion in performing 2020-09-21 - Becky Raisman—a 38-year-old singer and comedian who is part of the LGBTQ+ community—has been singing ever since she was in elementary school. She ...


Gay News

'SNL' adds lesbian cast member 2020-09-18 - Saturday Night Live, or SNL, will start its 46th season Oct. 3 with at least one major change: The show is adding a ...


Gay News

Sky's season ends with loss to Connecticut 2020-09-16 - The Chicago Sky's season came to an end Sept. 15 with a 94-81 loss to the Connecticut Sun in the single-elimination first round ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN True stories, trans tales and more in new picture books 2020-09-16 - New books can be a delightful relief in these days of quarantine. Here are some of the many new LGBTQ-inclusive picture books that ...


Gay News

Gerber/Hart reveals future plans 2020-09-16 - Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, 6500 N. Clark St., hosted several relatively informal, socially distanced gatherings the weekend of Sept. 12-13 to let community ...


Gay News

Red Stars lose opening Fall Series match 2020-09-13 - The Chicago Red Stars fell to the Washington Spirit 2-1 in their NWSL Fall Series opening match. Chicago's lone goal came from ...


Gay News

Series to celebrate Mexican artist Frida Kahlo 2020-09-10 - GLEN ELLYN, Ill. — The McAninch Arts Center (MAC), in association with the Cleve Carney Museum of Art (CCMA), will host a monthly ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.