To Be Gay and Jewish

Fiction writer Lev Raphael speaks on campus about his work bridging sexual orientation and Judaic culture.

Considered one of America’s earliest “second generation” writers, Lev Raphael specializes in fiction that explores the impact of the Holocaust on the children of survivors from the late 1970s onward.

Raphael gave a talk, “On a Narrow Bridge: Journey of a Gay Jewish Writer,” to the College community in late November. The College’s Jewish studies program, Department of English, and Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Education, Outreach, and Services sponsored the event.

Much of Raphael’s work, including his first novel, Winter Eyes, examines the intersection of sexual orientation with Jewish culture and religious tradition. Dancing on Tisha B’Av, his first collection of short stories, won a 1990 Lambda Literary Award. In his collection of essays, Journeys and Arrivals: On Being Gay and Jewish, he describes growing up in a secular family, discovering a Jewish community, early sexual exploration, and the turning point that came with writing his first autobiographical story.

Raphael is also known for his series of mystery novels — including Let’s Get Criminal, Little Miss Evil, and Tropic of Murder—which place an untenured professor of composition, Nick Hoffman, in the middle of mayhem both criminal and academic.