- The Good Stuff
- Contact Us
By Rachel Schiff on May 1, 2013 [Orange County Jewish Life]
Ayo Oppenheimer had a vision of creating a space for Judaism and sexuality online. A young Jewish woman, with a religious Jewish background, she felt that the global Jewish community was overlooking a very important entity in our culture – sex. Oppenheimer created a site entitled “Jewrotica,” a hub for Jewish sexual expression. Oppenheimer stated, “Jewrotica is a pluralistic and inclusive organization that welcomes individuals of all religious backgrounds and sexual orientations.” This pluralistic outlook provides a safe space for Jewish conversation about sexuality.
Looking past her edgy marketing strategy of two silhouettes with Stars of David in controversial places, Oppenheimer set the tone that marriage is actually the root of Jewish romance and that sexuality can be celebrated in the Jewish community in a tasteful format. In October of 2012, Oppenheimer launched her idea of a Jewish virtual community that helps harbor safe expression that she felt was not being met in communities. She encourages participants to write their experiences and thoughts. These ideas then become material shared in an online forum for visitors to read and discuss.
Understanding that the Jewish customs vary from one stream of Judaism to another, each visitor’s online experience can be customized. Oppenheimer’s objective is to make a taboo conversation less ostracizing and more constructive. She carefully has designed the website, creating a rating filter that provides a range of material for those who prefer a more modest discussion versus those who do not seek a filtered experience.
Young Leadership Division (YLD) brought Oppenheimer to Orange County to launch her first “Jewrotica” event. This event was the kickoff to Oppenheimer’s global tour, hosting workshops for different Jewish demographics. The event is the transition from online communities to face-to-face dialogue. Chemers Art Gallery was kind enough to lend its beautiful space to YLD, providing a beautiful backdrop of art and culture, creating wonderful ambience for the event.
This specific YLD program drew more than 50 people, a great turnout amongst the YLD community. The admission to the event included a delicious kosher meal from Jeff’s Gourmet Sausage. Participants were encouraged to mingle and eat before the discussion, providing a relaxed environment that would continue into the Jewrotica portion of the program.
The Orange County workshop encouraged the audience to participate throughout the entire event. Enthusiastic YLD members read monologues from online submissions to an energetic audience; these readings were the framework for spiritual conversation and the gateway of expression for Jews from all different walks of life. Some stories were about relationships that had come and gone, some from married couples, and others from the perspective of people in the Torah.
Intermittently, “confessions” were read, provided from audience members. They were shared anonymously, but evoked a full audience response. The event was engaging for both YLD’s participants and Oppenheimer alike. Later in the event were guest appearances from local artists Brian “Distract-Ion” Harmatz and Yuval Haklai. Both provided lighthearted lyrical performances that kept the audience laughing.
Oppenheimer clearly believes that being Jewish should not preclude us from being sexually expressive. Through Torah and community, Oppenheimer continues to engage and challenge communities to create a dialogue that has been easily disregarded or portrayed as taboo. Ultimately, Oppenheimer’s Jewrotica is a constructive milieu for Jewish expression and still cultivates Jewish learning.
For more information on Jewrotica, visit www.Jewrotica.org.