Through the Door of Life: A Jew­ish Jour­ney Between Genders

  • From the Publisher
April 23, 2012

In 2008, Joy (for­mer­ly Jay) Ladin made head­lines around the world when, after years of teach­ing at an Ortho­dox Jew­ish uni­ver­si­ty as a man, she returned as a woman. In Through the Door of Life, Ladin takes read­ers on a dis­tinct­ly Jew­ish jour­ney through the tran­si­tion process – a process not just of chang­ing gen­ders, but of cre­at­ing a new self. From her child­hood dis­cov­ery that the God por­trayed in the Torah seemed to share her social prob­lems and the con­di­tion that caused them – it’s hard to make friends when you don’t have a body – to her account of vis­it­ing the Wail­ing Wall first as a man, then as a woman, Lad­in’s gen­der iden­ti­ty and Jew­ish iden­ti­ty are in dia­logue with one anoth­er – a dia­logue that went pub­lic when she became the first open­ly trans­gen­der employ­ee of an Ortho­dox Jew­ish insti­tu­tion. With unspar­ing hon­esty and sur­pris­ing humor, Ladin wres­tles with both the nuts-and-bolts prob­lems of gen­der tran­si­tion, such as how to change from female to male on the way to work, and the Jew­ish tra­di­tion that both clar­i­fies and com­pli­cates the larg­er moral, spir­i­tu­al and philo­soph­i­cal ques­tions raised by the mis­match between the gen­der of her body and the gen­der of her soul.

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