3G & LGBT:
My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman

Abby Stein is an author, activist, blogger, model, speaker, former rabbi and granddaughter of three Holocaust survivors. She is the first openly transgender woman raised in a Hasidic community. Abby is also the first woman, and the first openly transgender woman, to have been ordained by an Orthodox institution, having received her rabbinical degree before coming out as transgender. Abby celebrated her transition and announced her name change to Abby Chava Stein at Romemu, a Jewish Renewal synagogue in the Upper West Side neighborhood of New York City.

Among many other awards, Abby was named one of the "9 Jewish LGBTQ Activists You Should Know" by The Times of Israel. In addition to transgender activism, Abby works on several projects to help individuals leaving the Ultra-Orthodox community. Abby's avid blogging gained her a big following in the Jewish community, and she has become a role model for former ultra-Orthodox Jews – both LGBTQ and not.Abby has also modeled for several photo shoots with major fashion magazines including Vogue and InStyle, and published her first book, "Becoming Eve: My Journey From Ultra Orthodox Rabbi To Transgender Woman" last year.

Abby's maternal grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Meisels, was known as the "Rabbi of Auschwitz" and, after liberation, was the Hasidic Chief Rabbi of the British Displaced Persons Camps. 

In this session, Abby will discuss how the histories of her three Survivor grandparents shaped her navigation through the "overlap of being Jewish and queer." Abby will discuss her "journey as it intertwines with the Holocaust - from growing up in the shadow of it every day, the realization of the additional killings of LGBTQ people and what that meant to me, my father telling me 'You're letting Hitler win' when I left the community, and much more."



Judy Weissenberg Cohen is a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who has devoted a significant part of her life to educating people about the Holocaust, with an emphasis on the untold stories of Women in the Holocaust. In 1944, Judy and many members of her family were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Judy became a slave labourer. She was later sent to other camps, and survived the death marches at the end of the war. Today, Judy is a frequent lecturer in Women and Gender Studies departments in universities, and has accompanied the March of the Living. She is highly regarded by history and social studies instructors and their students. 

Dr. Karen Mock of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto) is an educational psychologist and teacher educator, who has worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between theory, policy and practice, with an emphasis on social justice, anti-racist and anti-oppression education. Karen is one of the few Canadians qualified by the courts and human rights tribunals as an expert on antisemitism, racism, human rights, hate crime and hate group activity,. Among her many awards and honours for her work, Karen received the Women’s Intercultural Network’s International Women’s Day Award, is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal “for service to her peers, community and country,” and she was recently inducted as a member of the Order of Canada.

On March 19, 1944, the German Nazis occupied Hungary, and the Holocaust began for Hungarian Jews. First, the yellow star, then the ghetto, and finally, Judy and her family were deported and delivered to  Auschwitz-Birkenau, where most of her family was murdered. During the last ten months of the Holocaust, 450,000 Hungarian Jews were killed. In this program, Judy gives a very powerful personal testimony of her harrowing experience, with an emphasis on the role and treatment of women, and their lasting legacy.

Judy’s presentation and Karen’s facilitation will be the catalyst for lively audience participation in a moderated question and answer session, as well as thoughtful discussion of lessons learned and relevance to young women and men today.  

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Dr. Doris Bergen is a world-renowned Holocaust historian and the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on issues of religion, gender, and ethnicity in the Holocaust and World War II and comparatively in other cases of extreme violence. Her books include Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich (1996); War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (2003); The Sword of the Lord: Military Chaplains from the First to the Twenty-First Centuries (edited, 2004); and Lessons and Legacies VIII (edited, 2008).


In this program, Dr. Doris Bergen will address the typically silenced stories of sexual abuse (of women, men, and children) during the Holocaust. 

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The Unspoken Narrative

Peggy J. Kleinplatz, Ph.D., is Professor, Faculty of Medicine, and Director of Sex and Couples Therapy Training at the University of Ottawa. She is an Adjunct Research Professor at the Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship, Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa. She is a clinical psychologist, Board Certified as a Diplomate and Supervisor of Sex Therapy. Kleinplatz has published 5 books, notably New Directions in Sex Therapy: Innovations and Alternatives, winner of the AASECT 2013 Book Award.  In 2015, Kleinplatz received the American Association of Sex Educators Counsellors and Therapists Professional Standard of Excellence Award. She has a particular interest in sexual health in the elderly, disabled and marginalized populations.

Paul J. Weindling, Ph.D., is Research Professor in History of Medicine at Oxford Brookes University.. From 2017 he is part of a group researching the life histories of victims of brain research and the post-WW2 history of the brain specimens. His research interests cover eugenics, international health organizations, and coerced experiments/research under National Socialism. His publications include Health, Race and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism (1989), Epidemics and Genocide in Eastern Europe 1890-1945 (2000), Nazi Medicine and the Nuremberg Trials: From Medical War Crimes to Informed Consent (2004),  and Victims and Survivors of Nazi Human Experiments: Science and Suffering in the Holocaust (2014).

Women imprisoned in concentration camps sought out medical help after the war, before even marrying, because they had yet to regain their menses. Others went to see physicians when they attempted to conceive with great difficulty. Some physicians suggested that these women were suffering from psychosomatic trauma which was interfering in their menstrual cycles. Often women were told directly that it must have been something done to them in the camps, but given no information as to what that might have been or how to undo its effects. These women were eager for answers. Long before various Holocaust archive projects began, these survivors had been silenced around sexuality, menstruation or lack thereof and infertility. This program gives their narratives a voice.



Queer Identities Among the 2nd and 3rd Generations

Jacob Evoy, PhD student, moderator

Wendy Oberlander, filmmaker, artist

Dr. Katke Reszke, filmmaker, author

Dr. Arlene Stein, sociologist, professor, author 

Madelaine Zadik, writer, horticulturist

Belonging Differently will explore how we, as LGBTQ descendants of survivors, narrate our parents' and grandparents’ stories, integrating our inheritance of their experiences as we fashion authentic identities of our own. We will share experiences of recognizing and nurturing queer identities mixed in with family life that was marked by the horrific imprint of the Shoah.  We will also look at the ways we navigate the joys and burdens of multiple identities that often set us apart in social, economic and religious contexts - personal sensibilities that can lead to a more inclusive understanding of the ‘other'.


Liberation75 is the world's largest international event to mark the 75th anniversary of liberation from the Holocaust.

Join thousands of others as we commit to fighting antisemitism and continuing Holocaust education and remembrance.


Liberation75 was originally planned for May 31-June 2, 2020 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Due to COVID-19, Liberation75 will occur virtually from May 4-9, 2021.


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