Mikveh for LGBT Jews: Use, Adaptation, or Appropriation?

Written by Gabriella Spitzer, Barnard College Student

At Barnard College, where I am currently a junior, I am taking a class called Thinking Sexuality.  Among other things, it deals with the intersections of queer/LGBT life and other aspects of identity.   I’d love your help with research for my final project, researching how queer/LGBT Jews and others have refashioned mikveh to meet their spiritual and queer needs.

I’m interested in all kinds of queer mikveh use: lesbians doing some form of niddah (monthly immersion) practice, gay men using the mikveh as part of their sexual relationships, mikveh use as part of coming out rituals or sex change transitions, and so on.

I am particularly interested in the following issues:

  • Mikveh use intersecting with queer identity
  • Using other Jewish rituals in conjunction with queer aspects of life
  • Specific experience(s) at the mikveh
  • How mikveh use is conceptualized
  • Hesitations about mikveh usage
  • Is mikveh for the LGBT community a use (just like any other) of the mikveh, an adaptation (changing mikveh rituals), or an appropriation (subverting mikveh traditions to suit your needs)?

To fill out my survey, click here. 

Thank you for your help!

Gabriella Spitzer is in the Barnard College class of 2013, an Environmental Science major, and interested in the ways people make rituals meaningful.  


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