Identity | Zohar is Shabbos’dik

Zohar Weiman Kelman

In this photo Zohar Weiman Kelman shares with us her alter-ego: the Yiddish drag king  Shabbos’dik.

“This picture of my Eastern European Jewish Drag King persona was taken by my father. The piece is part of my Jew-Wandering series, a documentation of a queer roots adventure through Poland, Israel and Canada. In Toronto, I posed in the neighborhood where my great grandfather worked as a Rabbi, after the family emigrated from Eastern Europe. In drag I look like the boy my grandfather was in the old pre-war pictures. In drag I can imagine myself as part of that past— a past as a woman I would have no part of. Having my father (also a rabbi) take that picture, I am able both to show him how far from the normative path I have strayed, but also how connected I still am. As I travel, the same persona exposes different tensions; In Poland anti-Semitism and homophobia intertwine; in Israel it is Jewish and male privilege. Going back to places of the past that “should have” been forgotten, I make visible the uninvited queer, the uninvited woman, the uninvited Jew. These are vital disruptions. But these are also moments of remembrance, regeneration and invention, forging alliances with queer artists and activist who share my passion. Between longing for a past and future desire, I find my present queer home(s).”


Listen to Shtetl’s interview with Zohar Weiman Kelman who was born in West Jerusalem, comes from a long line of rabbis, and is currently doing a PhD  in the Department of Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley.