Jewish Day School in Northampton to Hold First ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ Saturday

The Lander-Grinspoon Academy, a K-6 Jewish day school in Northampton, is celebrating the Jewish ceremony of Havdallah with music and a Drag Queen Story Hour featuring local drag queen Jenayah De Rosario this Saturday on Jan. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m.

“I hope that the children come away feeling like they’re more comfortable with people who are different than they are, and also to participate in Havdallah with us,” Ellen Frank, executive director of the Lander-Grinspoon Academy, said.

Drag Queen Jenayah De Rosario. Photo by Tyler W. Ironside 

Havdallah is a religious ceremony that acts as a transition to the end of Shabbat, a period of rest and worship in the Jewish faith, as well as Jewish holidays, she said.

“That ties in very nicely with the idea of drag queens or people who are transgender, or gender questioning,” she said. “Thematically it makes a lot of since. We think it would be a lot of fun to do.”  

De Rosario is a performer known for having a big heart and charismatic performances throughout the Pioneer Valley, who hosts the monthly Drag Queen Bingo Party at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, according to a press release from the academy. De Rosario will be reading a book called “Sparkle Boy,” a story about a boy who doesn’t comply to traditional gender norms written by Lesla Newman, a national leader in LGBTQ children’s literature, who will also be in attendance. Newman will be reading her 1989 classic, “Heather Has Two Mommies.” 

Adults and children are encouraged to wear sparkly clothing to celebrate the end of Shabbat. The event will include snacks, crafts, a photo booth, dress up activities, and is free and open to the public. Donations will also be accepted for Keshet, a national organization supporting LGBTQ Jewish communities.

“We welcome all people to our community and have a strong focus on supporting children’s creativity and their natural love for dressing up and exploration of identity, LGA Principal Deborah Bromberg-Seltzer said. “What better way to include everyone into our community than with an opportunity to embrace the sparkly inside of each of us!”

Felicia Sloin, a singer and performer, will also be included in the event. She utilizes puppets, rhythm, rap, and ritual to celebrate Jewish culture with a combination of sing-a-longs, original Jewish music, and sacred music.

Chris Goudreau can be reached at cgoudreau@valleyadvocate.com.

Author: Chris Goudreau

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