London: a central place in the creation and consolidation of LGBT+ Jewish identity

Searle Kochberg, Margaret Greenfields

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


n the early 1970s gay Jews were meeting casually in a Clapham bedsit. By the early 1980s the first UK Jewish Gay Group (later to be called the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group) was meeting formally in a room in Alyth Gardens Reform Synagogue in Golders Green, NW London. Already London was proving to be THE gay Jewish city in the UK with a growing infrastructure to support a growing community. By the late 1980s, London had its first LGBT+ Jewish Helpline. It was becoming a city of centrifugal force for LGBT+ Jews. In 1984 the JGG produced its 1st Purim Spiel in Hendon Reform Synagogue, NW London, celebrating NW London as a site for particular performative pleasures for gay Jews (with references in the play to camp, ‘Jewish/Gay’ musicals, cross dressing, cruising, Jewish food). As the writer of the 1983 Spiel put it in 2015,

It is like a private language in two ways in the script. Two things. One is a reference to the Heath whatever -people would be familiar with that – or the clubs, be there is also the Jewish language like in “Brush Up Your Talmud” where many people wouldn’t understand the [Yiddish] jokes the lyrics.

Margaret Greenfields and Searle Kochberg will talk about London as a site for LGBT+ Jewish pleasures by referring to their recent AHRC ‘Connected Communities’ research project Ritual Reconstructed (2014-15) involving creative film collaborations with LGBT+ London Jews, one of which was a 2015 remounting and group reflection on the original 1984 Purim Spiel. Searle Kochberg will continue with the subject of LGBT+ Jewish London performative acts on film, with a discussion of his practice PhD thesis My Jewish London (2011-17) and how in one research film the streets of Canons Park prove to be a trigger/stimulus for one gay person’s reenactment of their Jewish adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2017
EventQueer Beyond London - Birkbeck College, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Nov 20171 Dec 2017


ConferenceQueer Beyond London
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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