Fox Point native Lulav Arnow, 29, was “ostensibly a straight kid” when she attended Nicolet High School in Glendale, and she identified as a largely “secular Jew.”
Now, Arnow lives in Minneapolis, is out as transgender, and more religiously Jewish. She co-hosts a podcast called “Kosher Queers” with 24-year-old Jaz Twersky, a third-grade teacher in Brooklyn and hopeful soon-to-be rabbi she met online.
Every episode, Arnow and Twersky give “queer takes on Torah,” which means analyzing a Torah portion with special attention to how the text deals with gender and sexuality. They also discuss anything “cool, queer or Jewish” happening in their lives.
When Arnow and Twerksy started the show in September 2019, “Kosher Queers” was the only queer Jewish podcast available. The show now has a few hundred listeners and over 45 episodes.
Episode titles include “All Vampires are Gay Jews,” “Re’eh: G-d Doesn’t Like Your Exes,” and “Pesach: Let Our People Gay.” Arnow and Twersky like to crack jokes, and they describe the show as “a podcast with at least two Jews and generally more than three opinions.”
“Our practice of Judaism is joyous in nature,” Arnow said. “I literally could not do a podcast where I was deadpan the entire time.”
The show’s most popular episode, “Yes, THAT Line in Leviticus,” deals with the verse, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” — often interpreted as a condemnation of homosexuality.
In the episode, Twersky offers alternative interpretations, like that “you shouldn’t be with someone while ignoring what gender they are” — condemning not being accepting of a partner’s gender identity.
Arnow acknowledges that interpretations on the show “weren’t necessarily intended by the authors of the text.” Still, she believes their interpretations are just as valid.
“It’s about what makes sense to you and makes sense to your community,” Arnow said.
Twersky said they draw inspiration from the Talmud, which contains rabbinical commentary where scholars argue back and forth about various interpretations.
“It feels to me entirely consistent with our tradition to be arguing back with it,” Twersky said.
Those interested can listen to “Kosher Queers,” at KosherQueers.BuzzSprout.com, as well as on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.