“Jewrotica” Program Connects Jews, Judaism and Sexuality

jewish-outlookBy Zohar Gewing on June 1, 2013 [The Jewish Outlook]

Community Organizers - Aliza Orent of the JCC, Rabbi Rachel Kobrin of Agudas Achim, Ayo Oppenheimer of Jewrotica and Ian Spechler of YAD

Community Organizers – Aliza Orent of the JCC, Rabbi Rachel Kobrin of Agudas Achim, Ayo Oppenheimer of Jewrotica and Ian Spechler of YAD

Jewrotica, an organization that examines Judaism and sexuality, kicked off its official spring 2013 events and workshops with Evening of Jewrotica: Bedside Reading, with help from the Austin Jewish community – Congregation Agudas Achim being the first synagogue in North America to co-sponsor one of the organization’s events and programs.

Jewrotica, founded in Austin to explore the intersection of Judaism and sexuality through essays, literature, erotica, Torah commentary and in-person programming, offers educational workshops and edgier evening programs featuring live Jewrotica readings around the United States.

The organization also held an event in Jerusalem in January.

More than 100 people turned out to the April 23 event held at Austin’s Spiderhouse Cafe, sponsored by Young Adult Division, Jewish Community Center of Austin, Congregation Agudas Achim and Selah. The evening featured 12 essays, short stories and poetry, including two original works from Austin writers.

"Chava", The Evening's Dazzling Mistress of Confessions

“Chava”, The Evening’s Dazzling Mistress of Confessions

Led by Austin-based Jewrotica founder Ayo Oppenheimer, who between sets explained Jewish concepts and framed each piece, content varied from sweet — someone who met her beshert on Birthright — to awkward — a story called “The Rabbi and The Vibrator” — to irreverent – “Behind Closed Doors with Men and Women of the Bible” — and even included Zionist reflections in a lesbian story set on Chanukah in Jerusalem.

There was something for everyone, and as Ozzy Zion Nelson, a former Hillel Jewish Campus Service Corps fellow and quizmaster at Geeks Who Drink in Austin said, “You may not tell your mom that you’re going to a live Jewrotica reading, but you will tell your friends. However, both would be jealous if they find out that they missed it.”

The event also included sexy Jewish trivia, free Jewrotica swag and plenty of anonymous audience confessions read by Chava (Brandon Poland), the evening’s mistress of confessions, in drag.

Dan Young, Selah Jewish community leader, said, “Bedside Reading with Jewrotica was funny, sexy, and hot all at once. The readings were honest about all kinds of sexuality, but the highlight of the evening was definitely the confessions, written by audience participants. Nobody knew who wrote them, and most were tell-alls that would make your bubbe blush.”

Oppenheimer explained that the organization’s live readings and workshops provide a positive, celebratory voice and a platform for Jewish sexual expression. They offer a new twist on Jewish learning and engagement while educating on sexual health, relationships and Jewish tradition. She said Jewrotica creates and contributes to a growing body of quality Jewish erotic literature.

Jewrotica Founder Ayo Oppenheimer Addresses The Audience

Jewrotica Founder Ayo Oppenheimer Addresses The Audience

Erin Givarz, a University of Texas Social Work graduate student, said, “It empowers us Jews to reach inside and own our sexy selves and heritage.”

Oppenheimer explained that there tends to be a dichotomy between two types of Jewish populations: One that has absorbed the sex-negative message of a Christian diaspora, is reticent about sexuality and does not offer any education on the subject, and another that has taken on secular western culture and no longer believe that Judaism has anything to teach them about relationships or sexuality.

Jewrotica was created in order to start a conversation with both of these groups. The organization exists to bring sex to Judaism but also Judaism to sex.

Jewrotica is open to everyone. It is geared toward the Jewish community, but welcomes audiences from all backgrounds. The organization has published submissions from writers as young as 18 and as mature as 84.

The Crowd Grew to 100+ By The End of the Evening

The Crowd Grew to 100+ By The End of the Evening

Jewrotica’s foundational workshop, Kedoshim Tehiyu – Sex Ed 101 Jewish-Style, is for teenage through young professional audiences. The educational workshops, including Sex in the Jewish Tradition and Sex in the 21st Century – Is Judaism Still Relevant?, are appropriate for teen through adult audiences and can be tailored based on group needs. Their evenings of live Jewrotica readings tend to be a bit racier, and are best suited toward college groups and adult audiences.

For more info on events, programs, submissions, and a Jewish experience that varies from PG to XXX visit Jewrotica.org.