"The Loves That Dare Not Speak Their Names: The World of Polyamorous Jews"
The irreverent Jewish life-and-culture magazine Heeb presents a serious article on poly in its Winter 2007 issue. An excerpt is on its website:
By Sarah Goldstein
Polyamory, while hardly a sweeping mainstream trend, is a lifestyle that an increasing number of Jews are embracing. But in light of the ongoing and often vicious debate both in religion and politics about same-sex marriage, polyamorous Jews are choosing to love their partners quietly and discreetly, wrestling with what it means to be both Jewish and polyamorous out of the public eye.
Rabbi Jacob Levin, 62, is an exception. When he came out to his synagogue’s board seven years ago, his disclosure was met with a mix of confusion and dismay. Homosexuality they understood... but polyamory? This was different, this was weird.... In the four-hour conversation that followed Levin’s announcement, the board drilled him on everything from Jewish law to whether their daughters would be safe from sexual advances. Would he advocate that husbands leave wives?
Levin’s synagogue, located some 300 miles north of San Francisco, ultimately decided to let him stay, though there remain a number of congregants displeased with the outcome. A few left, refusing to worship with him. Levin, who is straight, describes the decision to tell his synagogue as the most difficult of his life, not unlike, he imagines, a gay man coming out in the ’50s.... As far as he knows, Levin is the only polyamorous rabbi who is out to his congregation.
...Were it not for the anonymity afforded by the internet, there’s a good chance poly Jews would remain largely invisible to those outside the community. Group websites like KinkyJews, which welcomes “all sexual orientations and all streams of Judaism” (and boasts more than 1,000 members), and the listserv AhavaRaba (“big love”), an online forum for poly Jews, offer the opportunity for people to share their experiences living as poly within the constraints of Judaism and the larger, monogamous-centered culture.
Read the full item.
Coincidentally, the magazine's cover illustration for that issue (#12) is by legendary underground comic artist R. Crumb, who is now living in the south of France. His wife Aline Kominsky, an artist in her own right who is interviewed in the issue, has another "husband" in a happy relationship all around as described in a New York Times profile of the couple titled "Mr. and Mrs. Natural" (Jan. 21, 2007):
The Crumbs have long had an open marriage, that brave (and largely discarded) institution of the 1960s. Mr. Crumb travels to Oregon once a year to rekindle a relationship with an old girlfriend.
Speaking of [his wife's other husband Christian] Coudurès, Mr. Crumb said, “Between the two of us, we kind of make an ideal husband, because he can do all the masculine things I can’t do.” He cited Mr. Coudurès’s talents for wiring, plumbing, engaging in shouting matches with the highly energetic Ms. Crumb and driving a car.
“If she ever started making comparisons about our lovemaking technique, I might get jealous,” Mr. Crumb added.
Their daughter, Sophie, is not so sure about the arrangement. She called the idea of her mother’s having a second husband “gross.”
Nonetheless, the strong-jawed Mr. Coudurès, 61, has become a part of the support system that frees Mr. Crumb to focus on work. The Frenchman, who has a thick mane of black hair, does handyman chores. His daughter Agathe McCamy, 35, helps Ms. Crumb color her comics.
“I am a Situationist,” Mr. Coudurès explained in French after sharing a dinner with the Crumbs next to a gently crackling fireplace in his kitchen. He was referring to a European avant-garde philosophy born in 1957 and championed by Guy Debord. “I am an adventurer of the present.”
Read the whole article.