Be Happy, it’s Adar

| Feb 7, 2022
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As I write this, we are entering the Chinese New Year and the Jewish observance of Rosh Hodesh Adar I (the beginning of the Lunar month of Adar I). Both operate on a Lunar/Solar calendar – that is a Lunar calendar that is adjusted so that certain festivals occur at a set solar season. Chinese New Year is roughly concurrent with the Jewish Festival of Tu B’Shevat – the 15th of Shevat. This is the Jewish New Year for the Trees. One of the names of the Chinese New Year is the Spring Festival. The common theme here, of course, is celebrating the re-birth of the Earth, after the “death” and darkness of the Winter Solstice.

Even though in many places it is still snowing, trees are starting to bud. We see the crocus starting to pop up from the ground. Some birds may even be returning. Except for those who suffer from pollen allergies, this is a tremendously beautiful and amazing time of the year.

In the Jewish month of Adar, we say “be happy, it’s Adar!” This is because we celebrate the Festival of Purim, described in the Biblical book of Esther (the only book in the Tanakh – Hebrew Bible that does not mention God). In this book, after salvation from the evil Haman, Queen Esther decrees that the Jews should send portions of food to their friends, and gifts to those less well off. Even those who rely on welfare send gifts to those less fortunate.

In an interesting twist, despite the religious prohibition on crossdressing, in Purim celebrations, it is quite common to see men wearing women’s costumes and vice versa. And there is a custom of becoming quite drunk, which of course is hazardous to those in the community who are in recovery.

But, nonetheless, it raises an interesting question. In the Torah commentaries, the rabbis say that the prohibition on crossdressing is to prevent sexual licentiousness. But isn’t that most likely to happen when people are drunk and rowdy? After all, it was rowdy men in the Temple Courtyard that caused the Temple sages to institute the Mechitza, the separation between men and women in Jewish ritual settings.

So, when we, as trans people, who wear cross-gender clothing, NOT for licentious purposes, but to SAVE OUR LIVES, surely this is allowed? And of course, I have been arguing this point for as long as I have been out as a trans person. In addition, I have written an article where I prove that it is forbidden to obstruct a trans person from transitioning, due to the risk to their lives that obstruction can bring.

The GLAAD definition of who is trans includes crossdressers and drag performers, and I support that, even though there are those in the community who do not. Why? Because it is common that people are unable to actually transition, but they can express their transness through dressing or drag, and this, for them is a lifesaving, and thus, holy act.

If you are Jewish, Asian, trans, or a member of any other marginalized community in the US, get out there and celebrate your identity, and celebrate your Spring Festivals. Be Happy, It’s Adar! ?

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

Rabbah Rona Matlow (ze/hir) is an AMAB NB trans woman. Ze is a retired navy nuclear power officer, permanently disabled veteran and ordained rabbi. Ze is the author of the upcoming book “We are God’s Children Too”, part autobiography and part text which debunks the myths that conservative clergy have been teaching about trans and queer people for millennia. Ze is a communal activist, pastoral counselor and educator. Hir websites are and

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