Today’s episode is about the coronavirus and spirituality with Elliot Kukla, a rabbi at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco where he has provided spiritual care to those who are dying, ill, or bereaved since 2008. I got a chance to talk with Elliot about a recent essay he wrote for The New York Times titled “My Life Is More ‘Disposable’ During This Pandemic.” Elliot is grateful to his partner Abby Weintraub for her care and collaboration that makes all his work possible.
Please note there will be discussions of genocide, the Holocaust, eugenics, and intergenerational trauma.
Disability during a pandemic: Why you should put a spoon on your seder plate this year, Elliot Kukla, April 1, 2020, The Jewish News of Northern California.
The Holiness of Being Broken: Trauma and Disability Justice, Elliot Kukla, 2020, Evolve.
In My Chronic Illness, I Found a Deeper Meaning, Elliot Kukla, January 10, 2018, The New York Times.
Learning to Be Sick, Elliot Kukla, January 12, 2018, Tikkun.
Elliot Kukla is a rabbi at the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center in San Francisco where he has provided spiritual care to those who are dying, ill, or bereaved since 2008. His articles on spiritual care, illness, and healing, are published widely including in The New York Times.
In 2006 he was the first openly transgender rabbi to be ordained by a mainstream movement in Judaism (Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles). In 2007 he co-founded www.transtorah.org, to help people of all genders access Jewish tradition. His prayers and essays on gender diversity in Judaism have received international media coverage including in the Washington Post and National Geographic.
He is also chronically ill and a disability activist. He writes and paints about the intersections between disability, justice, and spirituality, and is an artist with the Disability Justice project Sins Invalid: An Unashamed Claim to Beauty in the face of Invisibility. In recent years, he has increasingly been focused on offering spiritual care to frontline disabled and sick communities struggling with the impacts of planetary crisis. In 2019 he was named one of the 50 most intriguing and influential Jews of the year by the Forward. He lives in Oakland, CA with his partner, their child, two Boston Terriers and a cat named Turkey.
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Alice Wong, Writer, Audio Producer, Host
Cheryl Green, Text Transcript
Lateef McLeod, Introduction
Mike Mort, Artwork
Theme Music (used with permission of artist)
Song: “Dance Off”
Artist: Wheelchair Sports Camp