Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Transitioning As A Hasidic Rabbi

Today [Abby] Stein wears a triangle charm necklace. Two corners bear symbols for male and female, while the third indicates transgender. She is dating a woman. And she is on a waiting list for sexual reassignment surgery.

At Columbia she’s majoring in political science, and women’s and gender studies. She teaches Hebrew school at Romemu and at the Congregation B’nai Jeshurun [both in Manhattan], and recently started a part- time community engagement job at the Manhattan borough president’s office.

Stein is also writing a memoir, and someone is making a documentary about her. As the only Hasid in America to come out publicly as transgender, she is in great demand as a speaker from Limmud Jewish education organization, to college and LGBTQ groups. She also runs an online support group for Hasidic trans people.

Most importantly, Stein notes now, she has never felt better.

“I experienced cycles of depression since I was 12,” she says. “Now I have mood swings, but I can deal with that by watching Netflix and eating pickles.”

DEBRA NUSSBAUM COHEN in “‘Gender began punching me in the face’: How a Hasidic rabbi came out as trans woman,” Haaretz, February 17, 2017.