Expanding Sisterhood: Jewish Lesbians and Externalizations of Jewishness

Amy K. Milligan, Elizabethtown College


The body is a canvas that can be used to express a kaleidoscope of identities. For Jewish lesbians, who experience marginalization at the hands of both secular and religious society, externalizations of Jewishness can be empowering. For some women, this embodied Jewishness makes a political statement; for others, it gives voice to their Jewish spirituality. In both cases, this ethnographic study probes the ways in which Jewish lesbians experience queerness and Jewishness and how overlaps of these identities manifest in hair styling, yarmulkes, and the wearing of prayer shawls.