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Lexi Kohanski

Full CV

As a descendant of the Lover and Pursuer of Peace, Aharon, and the line of priestly tenders of the Temple, Lexi’s ancestral mission lies in sanctifying the offerings of all our hearts so that the Presence can dwell in this world. In her work as a queer, white Ashkenazi, trans female Jewish educator, Lexi focuses on empowering those of us who have not felt at home in Judaism to own our texts and traditional lifeways. 

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Talks and Events

New Voices Magazine

February 2024

When Torah Hurts

What do we do when the Torah confronts us with verses that contradict our lived realities? As queer readers and practitioners of Torah, one of our grounding principles must be that the Torah is in harmony with what we know to be true about the world. Rather than distancing us from our tradition, the heart of Jewish faith lies in the pain of that initial encounter and the struggle to uncover meanings that restore life. We will explore how Jewish thinkers have applied this approach to Genesis 1:27--what could this verse mean if it can't be that God created the gender binary? In the second half of the workshop, you’ll also get to practice this framework on a Jewish text that seems to contradict your own truths.

Congregation Bnai Israel

June 2022

A Date With Davening

Prime time Shavuot shiur with 100+ person audience. Our community gathers for services, but what are we actually doing when we daven? A discussion framed by approaches from Non-Violent Communication, the Rambam, and the Zohar. 45 minutes. Northampton, MA.

Nefesh LA

May 2023

Bodies Beyond Good and Evil

Video shown at Nefesh LA's Shavuot learning. What are the spiritual stakes in claiming that gender transition is a Torah mitzvah? Framing transness as a part of relationship with the divine empowers us, uplifts our sense of self, and adds the weight of responsibility to our journeys. Video, 20 minutes.

My Jewish Living and Mount Holyoke College

March 2023

Encountering Gender at Creation

Guest teacher for LGBTQ Jewish student group Torah Queeries. As queer readers and practitioners of Torah, one of our grounding principles must be that the Torah does not contradict what we know to be true about the world. An experiment in applying this principle to Genesis 1:27--what could this verse mean if it can't be that God created the gender binary? Shiur, 2 hours. South Hadley, MA.

Yeshiva Shel Maala

April 2023

Revealing God's Face

A practical tutorial on writing tefillot full of power and self-expression, using this original prayer for a trans woman upon laser hair removal as a model. Shiur, virtual, 90 minutes.

Congregation Ohav Shalom

March 2023

Scholar in Residence

One shabbaton, 3 events. Friday night vort on astrology, faith, and reading gender. Saturday morning dvar Torah, “Do Something So They Can Live: Dysphoria as Exile.” Saturday afternoon open Q&A with the congregation. Albany, NY.

Fort Tryon Jewish Center

June 2023

Trans Pride Shabbaton

3 events. Dvar Torah: The experience of the Clouds of Glory mirrors encounters with trans bodies. Kiddush schmooze speaker on mobilizing the Jewish community against anti-trans legislation. Panel speaker about the Trans Halakha Project. New York, NY.

The Torah Studio

May 2023

Accepting the Mitzvahs

A deep dive into how the halakhic discourse on kabbalat mitzvot helps us understand Jewish conversion, covering Tannaitic material through the Acharonim. Shiur, virtual, 90 minutes.

SVARA x Shel Maala

September 2023

Compiling the Next Trans Codex: Be Whole

Interactive walkthrough of the sources for the mitzvah of gender transition. Conceiving of transition as a mitzvah lets trans Jews understand trans identity without defending our right to exist. Shiur, virtual, 90 minutes.

Smith College

February 2024

SCJC Guest Speaker

Dvar Torah on Mishpatim - The Torah is not a solid rock that does not change; it's more like a LEGO set that we have the power to arrange, for beauty and blessing. Q&A with the Smith Jewish student community about Lexi's experience of queer and trans Jewishness.

Classes

The Ohel Minyan

August 2021

Leyning

8-session skill building course on reading from the Torah, to cultivate more leyners for the minyan. Covered the fundamentals of leyning in a common Ashkenazi style. Students prepared one aliyah to read for Ohel Minyan as part of the course. 9 students, hybrid.

The Ohel Minyan

October 2021

Shatz Like A Boss

8-session skill building course on leading the weekday Shacharit service. Deepened students' understanding of the meanings of the tefillot and trained them in traditional Ashkenazi nusach, with the aim of cultivating more leaders for the minyan. Co-taught with Sasha Batz Stern, funded by the Grinspoon Foundation. 10 students.

Yeshiva Shel Maala

December 2022

It Is In The Heavens

SVARA-style text study course on the discussion of whether there "is a sign for Israel" on Shabbat 156. Each class consisted of chevruta, reading, grammatical analysis, and discussion. 50 students, virtual.

The Torah Studio

2021-Present

Psalms

Weekly class on the Book of Psalms, exploring each psalm as a poem that reflects a powerful moment in the author's relationship with Hashem. As part of the course, I am producing my own translation of the Psalms. 6-13 students per week, virtual.

The Torah Studio

Fall 2023

Worlds To Come Beta Test

Worlds To Come is an immersive tabletop roleplaying adventure for learning Biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew. This beta test of the game was its first extended trial, with six beginner students learning the full Qal Imperfect verb paradigm and vocabulary over the course of six 3-hour sessions split between traditional lessons and live language activation through gameplay. Virtual.

Yeshiva Shel Maala

December 2023

Who Created These!

SVARA-style text study course on the aspects of Hashem called Mi and Eleh in the Zohar (1b-2a). Each class consisted of chevruta, reading, discussion, and a Zoharic Aramaic grammar lesson. 33 students, virtual.

Publications and Writing

Halachic Left

June 2024

Beneath the Mountain / למרגלית ההר: A Shavuot reader

A guided source sheet for Shavuos on why the Torah was received in the wilderness and not in the Land of Israel. Texts from Theopolitics and Queer Phenomenology give practical texture to the Nesivos Shalom's conception of Shavuos as a time of the Torah's complete renewal. p19-22

YouTube

2021-2023

T4Torah

A YouTube channel which is a living document of trans Jews reclaiming our texts and our God, and looking good doing it. Featuring original drashot and chevruta learning, written, starring, and edited by Lexi. 14 full-length videos.

The Trans Halakha Project

January 2023

Be Whole: A Halakhic Approach to Gender and Transition

A framework for trans identity in Jewish law and life. “Halakhic sex” does not exist, and gender transition is a mitzvah. 30 pages, Hebrew and English.

Gashmius Magainze vol 3

February 2024

A Lesson From God In Trans Visibility

Visibility is a major concern for the trans community, putting us at risk of violence while being necessary to secure our rights. The moment of encountering an illegible body can be understood as a divine experience, spiritually comparable to witnessing the Clouds of Glory settle on the Tabernacle. 3000 words.

Work Experience

The Torah Studio

2023-Present

Director of Online Learning

Oversees all online programming, including weekly courses, one-off shiurim, teacher training and student evaluation. Serves up to 90 adult students per quarter. Collaborates with Execute Director Liana Wertman on visioning the organization's growth and implementing strategies. Virtual.

ReMitzvah

2021-2022

Independent Tutor

Launched freelance tutoring business with 75 1:1 adult and youth lessons and 3 full-length courses taught over 10 months. Publicized programs on social media accounts with a combined audience of 1400 followers. Virtual.

Crimson and Clover Farm

2021

Greenhouse Manager

Supervised team of 5 in efficient daily harvests, ensuring high quality of produce and maximizing output. Coordinated with other managers to harvest, process, and distribute 3500lbs of produce weekly.
Florence, MA

CET English Language Schools

2018-2019

English Language Teacher

Motivated groups of 10-15 Russian teenagers to achieve state-assigned learning goals. Developed close working relationships with Siberian colleagues and students across cultural and language barriers. Siberia, Russia.

Education

Riverdale, NY

2023-2024

Yeshivat Maharat

Beit Midrash Program. Talmud with Rabbanit Aliza Sperling (Masechet Kiddushin); Chassidut with Rabbi Dr Erin Leib Smokler (Meor Eynayim); Aramaic Grammar with Rabbi Eliezer Lawrence; Halakha with Rabba Wendy Amsellem (Nat bar Nat, Reicha).

New York, NY

2022

Yeshivat Hadar

Fall Zman: Talmud with Dena Weiss (Masechet Sukkah).

Summer Zman: Talmud with Rabbi Miriam-Simma Walfish (Masechet Makkot); Halakha with Rabbi Ethan Tucker; the Amidah with Rabbi Elie Kaunfer.

Jerusalem

2019

The Pardes Institute

Summer Zman: Talmud with Rahel Berkowitz (Mipnei Darkhei Shalom); Bnei Machshavah Tovah with Yiscah Smith.

Jerusalem

2019

The Conservative Yeshiva

Winter Zman: Torah of Human Rights with Dr Shaiya Rothberg; Tefillah with Rabbi Joel Levy.

Chicago, IL

2017

CELTA Certification

CELTA is "the most widely recognised English [as a foreign language] teaching qualification in the world," focused on developing practical skills with a strong pedagogical grounding. Certified Pass B, the second highest grade, at Teaching House Chicago.

Evanston, IL

2013-2017

Northwestern University

BA in Communications and Russian. Summa cum laude. Undergraduate training in all aspects of theater, with a specialization in improvisational performance. Senior thesis on the pedagogical vision of Stanislavsky, the articulator of modern acting technique.

Get in Touch

443-904-5108

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