Yiscah Smith’s Resources for Authentic Living


On January 21, author, educator, spiritual Jewish activist, and transgender mentor Yiscah Smith, shared her inspiring, sometimes harrowing, four-decades-long struggle to create her life as a woman.

During her talk, Yiscah provided a context through sources that can direct and inspire us to actually live an authentic life, in the spirit of her autobiography, ‘Forty Years in the Wilderness: My Journey to Authentic Living.’ Sources that I’ve discovered along my journey

“I was excited to find out that even my own tradition, the rabbis say ‘be honest,’ ‘be real,’ whatever that means,” Yiscah said.

“Much of my message, although the specific part of my journey is grappling with the tension between being born transgender and suffer from gender identity dysphoria and then moving through a gender transition,” Yiscah explained, “but at the same time really being in conflict with wanting to be authentically honest with God, with my people, with my tradition, with Israel, with my soul. So it was two pronged tension. It was a two-pronged journey. And I really sensed after giving readings and teachings, that this is really a global message. That everyone, to a degree, at times, lives in the closet. It’s a different closet for different people. So, really, what do we all dream for? we all dream for connection. We all dream for warmth. We all dream to have a good day.”

Here are two resources shared by Yiscah Smith during her talk:

1. From Rav Kook: “There could be a free person whose spirit is the spirit of a slave. And there could be a slave with a spirit full of freedom. Whoever is faithful to one’s self – that is a free person. And whoever fills one’s life with only what is good and beautiful in the eyes of others- that is a slave.”

2. A palliative nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying. This is number one: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”

Purchase Yiscah’s book through Amazon and donate to BCC. (more details)

Watch the video of the full event, including Yiscah’s talk, followed by a session of Q&A.

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