Thursday, January 24, 2013

Case of "rabbi" Lydia Katz

Case of Rabbi Lydia Katz
(AKA: Lydia S. Katz, Rebbe Lydia Katz, GungFuJew, Lydia Katz, Kamigifu, Seirei)
Lydia Katz - Alleged Sex Offender
Private Religious Tutor - Seattle, WA
Teacher, Temple De Hirsch Sinai (TDHS) - Seattle, WA

Program Director, Camp Kesher - Vashon Island, WA
 Eureka, CA 
Teacher's Assistant - Arcata, CA
Graduate of Humboldt State University (Religious Studies) - Arcata, CA
Los Angeles, CA 

Friday, January 11, 2013 –– Lydia Katz, a 43 year old Unknown Female from Los Angeles, CA was arrested for Fugitive - a Felony.  Lydia Katz was booked into Harris County Jail on Saturday, January 12, 2013

November 2012 –– Police have issued an arrest warrant for 25-year-old Lydia Katz on three counts of third-degree child molestation with a $150,000 warrant issued for his arrest - though authorities say Katz has disappeared, it is believe he has fled the United States to Guatemala.

March 20, 2013 –– Katz pled guilty as charged

April 19, 2013 –– Lydia Katz was sentenced to 20 months in prison, followed by 36 months of community custody. He will be required to register as a sex offender.

According to the website, Lydia S. Katz was studying to become a rabb
i.  On other sites he refers to himeself as Rebbe Katz.  He also listed his age as 15 on another site.

If you or anyone you know were abused/assaulted by Lydia Katz, contact
Seattle Police Det. Donna Stangeland at: 206-625-5011.

Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.

Table of Contents


  1. Marijuana Sales Boost Northern California County (11/30/2009)


  1. Camp Kesher January 2012 Meeting Minutes (01/2012) 
  2. Camp Kesher Evaluation 2012 (09/04/2012)  
  3. Charge: Longtime Seattle religion teacher molested girl (11/20/2012) 
  4. Child Molestation Charges Leveled Against Seattle Religious Instructor After Hebrew
  5. Love Poem Discovered by Victim's Mother  (11/21/2012)  
  6. Ex-Seattle synagogue teacher charged with molesting student (11/21/2012)  
  7. Where in the world is alleged sex offender Lydia Katz, religious school teacher (11/22/2012)  
  8. Seattle child-molestation suspect believed to have fled the country (11/23/2012)
  9. Religious school teacher charged with molestation  (11/28/2012)


  1. Former Humboldt State Student Running From Child Molestation Charges (01/09/2013)
  2. Ex-Seattle synagogue teacher charged with molesting student arrested (01/10/2013) 
  3. 'Polyamorous' teacher jailed for alleged relationship with teen student (01/25/2011)

Background articles on Lydia Katz
  1. Lydia Katz's Bio on his Blog - New Israel Gospel
  2. Lydia Katz's Bio on his Blog - Keroscenery
  3. Mother Wold 
  4. Lydia Katz's Bio 
  5. Poly And Religion: Poly And Jewish
  6. It's OK to be You (YouTube)  (04/27/2011) - Potential Grooming video
  7.  Armor (YouTube) (04/27/2011)- Potential Grooming video
  8. Disney Wisdom (YouTube) (04/15/2012) - Potential Grooming video
  9. Jesus was a Black Jew
  10. Leather, Chains and God: An Exploration of the Relationship Between BDSM and Abrahamic Religion (04/27/2011)


Marijuana Sales Boost Northern California County
By Mandalit Del Barco
NPR - November 30, 2009

Lydia Katz came to Arcata restock his supply of medicinal marijuana.  
Katz says he first began "self-medicating" with his parents' blessings at 
the age of 13
These are boom times for the marijuana trade, especially in Northern California's Humboldt County. Humboldt pot is sold throughout the country, including some of the many medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles.

Decades after back-to-the-land hippies first moved to the rural area, it remains a mecca for marijuana.

At the plaza in downtown Arcata, there are still wandering, tie-dyed souls playing guitar and bartering for handmade bongs. They openly buy, sell and trade small bags of primo weed.

Nick Larson and his buddy hitchhiked to town to see if the streets truly are paved with pot.

"We've heard stories all the way down: 'Dude, get down to Humboldt. You gotta try their weed, it's amazing!' " he says. "So we get down here and people are like, tossing handouts, and we're just like, 'Oh my god.' Like, whether it be trim or just straight buds, it's just amazing."

In Eureka, the town next door, a long line stretches outside the Humboldt Patient Resource Center. The pot dispensary is marked with the familiar green leaf logo and a Tibetan prayer flag.

"Truth is that Humboldt County is one of the best growers and distributors of marijuana in the world," says Lydia Katz, who's 22. He came to stock up on what he calls his "medicine." "People here understand how much a part of the life's blood it is. Truly, without weed, this county would go belly up. Our economy depends on it."

Retired Sheriff's Lt. Steve Cobine recalls that when logging and fishing jobs dried up in the late 1960s, hippies moved in and bought the cheap leftover land.

"You'd see people living in tepees and tents and dead school buses and whatnot," he says.
Today, he says, the local counterculture pastime of growing marijuana has become a thriving business: "And now those people that were living in school buses own a nice big house and ski in Telluride every year."

Get-Rich-Quick Economy
Marijuana is now infused in almost every aspect of the region's economy. In Humboldt County, you see a glut of hydroponics stores, selling fertilizer and grow lights for cultivating cannabis. At the food co-op, you can order hemp milk and hemp butter.

Cafe Brio owner Serge Scherbatskoy says many transactions in town are made in cash.

"We see a lot of hundred-dollar bills in the cash register," he says. "There's a lot of money around, so it's good for a lot of businesses."

Scherbatskoy can't say that all the money comes from the marijuana trade. But he claims it's the only job here that anyone really wants, "cause it's real easy for somebody to make thousands and thousands of dollars, and why would they want to work for $10 or $12 or $14 an hour?"

College student Tara Devlin earns money to help pay her tuition. She trims marijuana buds for medical marijuana collectives and illegal growers.

"I'll work a couple months for a good amount of money," she says. "It's always cash."

Humboldt County has lots of pot entrepreneurs. One of them calls himself "Bucky Buck." He gets paid to convert homes into indoor marijuana operations, or "grows."

"It used to be like the Grateful Dead-style hippie thing, everyone's peace and chill," he says. "But now it's more like these aggressive, just transient kind of lifestyles. It's not like the whole peace, love and granola thing anymore."

Bucky Buck says Proposition 215, California's medical marijuana law, spawned a flurry of get-rich-quick businesses here. And now, he says, "it's like you get people who aren't here for the beauty and the love in the area. They're just here to reap the profit."

'Our Neighborhoods Are Being Taken Over'
Walking down her street in Arcata, Robin Hashem points out all the homes on her block that are now outfitted to grow marijuana.

"There's a lot of electrical energy being used by grow houses," she says. "So if you go by and look at the meter, it will be spinning rapidly."

There are other telltale signs, she says: Windows covered with plastic, people coming and going at all hours, the smell of marijuana.

"If you look at this house, there's mildew on the curtains," she says pointing across the street. "You're not gonna be having a house full of mildew and be there all the time. You know, they're just not there on a regular basis. They have the kids' bikes out there all the time. It's just making it really, 'Oh, we're normal. Nothing going on here.'"

Hashem says she believes in the compassionate use of marijuana. She voted for Proposition 215. But she's had it with the grow houses that surround her. She's been lobbying the city to curb the spread, a campaign she calls "Nip It in the Bud."

"Our neighborhoods are being taken over by illegal grows," she says, "and we need to do something to stop it."

Mark Wheetley, the mayor of Arcata, says the grow houses are a menace. With jury-rigged electrical wires and toxic chemicals, they sometimes catch fire. And they're easy targets for robbers.

"They're either drug deals gone wrong, or people trying to come in and either steal cash or marijuana from people," Wheetley says. "A lot of it has been people from outside the community that have come in and see this as a quick way to make money. So it's kind of a 'Wild West' mentality that we had to get out in front of and rope back in."

So why doesn't somebody pull the plug on the pot business? That wouldn't be so easy in a place where marijuana is such an accepted part of life. Authorities admit that the county has a lenient interpretation of what's legal under the state's medical marijuana law.

Anyone with a doctor's order for marijuana — called a "recommendation" — can grow as much pot as they want in a 100-square-foot area. But California narcotics special agent Jack Nelsen says some of the locals have gotten carried away.

"They have anywhere from 10 to 100 to 200 plants, and they think that's OK," he says, "Because we've got 15 recommendations around the house for my dog, my cat, my cousin and my brother."

'I Grow As Much As I Can Consume'
Surrounded by his pet ducks and boa constrictors, a pot grower introduces himself as "Mr. Green." He shows off the house he shares with his teenage daughter. Past bouquets of marijuana drying like a canopy over the guest bed, he enters his garage.

"Over there, I fold my laundry," he says. "There's my washer-dryer, and over here, I have my pot plants."

The garage is a jungle of marijuana plants growing year-round, under emerald green grow lights.

"It's unlimited plants, unlimited number of lights. It's as much as you can cram into a 10-by-10 room or 100-square-feet of canopy," says Mr. Green. "If you stand above it and look down, it looks like a sea of green."

Mr. Green has a California 215 card, which he says lets him grow his own medicinal marijuana. The 46-year-old carpenter claims he uses pot to relieve back pain. But he hints that he also has buyers in Southern California.

And Mr. Green has plenty of marijuana. He has two other grow houses just like this. He claims, with more than a few chuckles, that the three houses provide him with a year's supply of medical marijuana.

"I grow as much as I can consume in a year," he says smiling. "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it."

But even in Humboldt County, where the pot business is routine, authorities still occasionally go looking for illegal growers.

On Tuesday's All Things Considered, Del Barco reports on the hunt for marijuana in California forests and private timberlands in Humboldt.


Camp Kesher January 2012 Meeting Minutes
Attendees: Kenny Kranseler, Shelly Cohen, Elizabeth Goertzel, Barry Butterklee, Alan Cook, Neil Weinstein, Lisa Wedling, Esther Herst, Karen Overtz, Jeff Coffler, Janice Brumer

Discussion Topics:
  • May have kid's coordinator in Lydia Katz who teaches at TDHS (following up to get his correct email)


Camp Kesher Evaluation 2012
September 4, 2012

Lydia Katz - Alleged Sex Offender
* Different children's program director (not Lydia Katz), more physically accessible 
* My child had a great time in the children's program and enjoyed the kids and Sep 4, 2012 4:51 PM activities. The only change I would make would be to not have Lydia Katz back as children's program director, or provide him with a lot more training beforehand. I spent some time with Lydia and a bunch of 8-10 year old kids, and I found his interactions with them disturbing (e.g. bad boundaries, monologuing about himself, boasting about his teaching skills to the kids while putting down other adults/educators who weren't present, showing little interest in the kids, etc.) could see that some of the kids from his temple like him and feel connected to him, but I wouldn't want my own child to have him as an educator or program director.


Charge: Longtime Seattle religion teacher molested girl

November 20, 2012 - Seattle PI

A longtime religious instructor at several Seattle synagogues has been charged with child molestation following allegations he romanced a teen student.

King County prosecutors contend Lydia S. Katz had repeated sexual contacts with the 14-year-old girl after meeting her through a temple.

Katz, 25, is described by police as a charismatic teacher who has worked at two Seattle-area temples and a Jewish children’s camp, and offered private religious instruction to children. Charged with three counts of child molestation, Katz is believed to have fled to Guatemala.

Writing the court, Seattle Police Det. Donna Stangeland said Katz met the girl while teaching religious classes at a Seattle temple. The name of the temple was not specified in court documents.


Child Molestation Charges Leveled Against Seattle Religious Instructor After Hebrew Love Poem Discovered by Victim's Mother
By Matt Driscoll 
Seattle Weekly - Nov. 21 2012

25-year-old man described as "a longtime religious instructor at several Seattle synagogues," is facing charges of child molestation - stemming from an alleged romantic relationship with a 14-year-old he engaged in while teaching the girl.

Lydia Katz - MySpace (2009)
Lydia S. Katz is now up against three counts of third-degree child molestation with a $150,000 warrant issued for his arrest - though authorities say Katz has disappeared and may have fled to Guatemala.

The temple where Katz allegedly met his victim is not named in court documents.

Charging documents indicate the alleged relationship between Katz and the 14-year-old victim was discovered when the victim's mom stumbled upon a Hebrew love poem Katz allegedly penned and sent to the victim via email. According to charging documents, "[Katz] sent [the victim] an email titled 'You' that contained a Hebrew love poem, the English translation of which includes (in part) 'I am drunk on your kisses.'"

According to the PI:

The girl's mother confronted Katz after finding romantic emails he sent to her daughter, [Seattle Police Det. Donna Strangeland] told the court. One included a love poem that contained the phrase "I am drunk on your kisses."
According to the detective, Katz didn't deny the allegations leveled by the girl's mother.

"As things stand, I am at your mercy," Katz told the woman in a text message. "My career, my freedom, all I have ever worked to build; these things you can destroy with one simple call or email."

The girl's mother notified their temple, which subsequently fired Katz.

According to the PI's account of the case, Seattle police interviewed the 14-year-old victim twice, and "She ultimately told investigators Katz molested her as part of a romantic relationship."

Katz has apparently been tutoring children preparing for their bar and bat mitzvahs and has served as a camp counselor in the past. Police also say he has a history of inappropriate discussions with children.

More from the PI:

"There is information that Katz spoke to several 14-year-olds about sexual subjects, such as safely engaging in bondage/domination/sado-masochistic sex and his believe in ply-amorous relationships," Strangeland told the court. Katz spoke to the young teens about those topics at his North Seattle home.


Ex-Seattle synagogue teacher charged with molesting student
By Dana Rebik
Fox News - November 21, 2012

SEATTLE –– Police have issued an arrest warrant for a 25-year-old former Seattle synagogue teacher charged with molesting a 14-year-old student.

The man Lydia Katz, 25 had lived in Seattle for at least the past year, but authorities said they believe he could be in Guatemala now.

Ali Alfoneh speaking with Lydia Katz
Police said Katz worked at two Jewish temples and at a Camp Kesher weekend Jewish family event on Vashon Island ths past Labor Day weekend.  The temples where he worked were not disclosed.

Police said that Katz, in his online postings, never talked about his alleged 14-yar-old victim, but they added that the victims mouther found romantic emails between the two, one where Katz allegedly wrote, "I'm drunk on your kisses."

Police said the victim told investigators that she and Katz had repeated sexual contact from early August until mid-September at a park near his north Seattle home.

Judith Kolokoff, a member of the group JewishVoice for Peace, and a former teacher and director of the Wenatchee Sexual Assault Center, said, "It's horrible.  It's horrendous and horrific.

"I think we should know better by now.  We've had plenty of experience with this kind of thing and it's unfortunate that it's not until after it happens we do anything about it,"  said Kolokoff.

Katz was fired after the victim's mother reportedly forward the Katz emails to the rabbi of the temple where Katz worked.

The co-director of Camp Kesher said he is aware of the allegations against Katz and called it a regrettable situation.


Where in the world is alleged sex offender Lydia Katz, religious school teacher?
By Vicki Polin
Examiner - November 22, 2012

"Rabbi" Lydia Katz
SEATTLE -- Earlier this week an arrest warrant was issued for 25-year-old Lydia S. Katz, a synagogue school teacher and past camp program director. Katz is wanted on three counts of third-degree child molestation changes for molesting a 14-year-old girl he was teaching. According to reports, the victim’s mother found love letters written in Hebrew sent from Katz via e-mail.

According to charging documents, "[Katz] sent [the survivor] an email titled 'You' that contained a Hebrew love poem, the English translation of which includes the statement 'I am drunk on your kisses.'"

According to Seattle Police Det. Donna Stangeland, Katz didn’t deny the allegations, stating:

"As things stand, I am at your mercy," and continued "My career, my freedom, all I have ever worked to build; these things you can destroy with one simple call or email."

After reading the letter the the mother notified her synagogue, which immediately fired Katz. The question remains, was there any type of background check prior to hiring Lydia Katz?

A disturbing aspect of this case comes up very quickly after doing a quick search on the net on Lydia Katz. It is easy to learn that Katz was involved in BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance/submission, and Sadomasochism). Back on April 27, 2011 Lydia Katz posted on his blog “New Israel Gospel”, that his article “Leather, Chains, and God: An Exploration of the Relationship Between BDSM and Abrahamic Religion” was his “senior project for my BA in Religious Studies” at Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

Katz’s name also pops upon an article written for Modern Poly Magazine, titled “Poly & Religion: Poly and Jewish” in which Lydia Katz talks about his own personal struggles with being Polyamorus to the point he seems to glorify the concept of having being in multiple relationships at the same time.

Another clue in which questions should have arose that Lydia Katz might be a potential sexual predator would be by watching Katz’s YouTube videos, which started appearing in 2011.

Anyone who works in the anti-rape field would surely state that Katz’s film clips appear to be very similar to videos created by sexual predators -- which are used as part of the groom process in hopes of luring in potential victims. Offenders often use these types of recordings to reiterate the lines they have already used and or to share with other pedophiles to prove to potential victims that what they are saying “is the truth”.

The first youtube clip that Lydia Katz appeared in is titled “It’s Okay to be You. In this film he talks about “finding yourself”, “honesty” and “lying to ourselves and society”. He goes on to talk about “lying about our own personal actions” and acceptance of that.

Katz’s conversation appear very similar to the way experienced sexual predators connect with potential victims, especially when he explains that “if you lie to yourself about who being who you are you will be depressed and miserable”. Throughout most of his YouTube video he appears to be projecting himself into the conversation. A example is when he says: “there is no flaws in who he is, that he is not a sociopath, or illegitimate” -- and goes on talking about the fact that he’s Polyamorus and that it’s okay.

On a few websites found, Lyida Katz identifies himself as either Rabbi Katz or Rebbe Katz.

We all have to be wondering if the allegations of child molestation could have been avoided if those hiring Lydia Katz at two different synagogues or at as the director of Camp Kesher on Vashon Island would have done some sort of background checks or if anyone even bothered to read Lydia Katz’s public blog or watched his youtube videos? If they did, a red flag would have immediately been raised regarding his ability to work with children.

If you or anyone you know were abused/assaulted by Lydia Katz, contact Seattle Police Det. Donna Stangeland at: 206-625-5011.

Seattle child-molestation suspect believed to have fled the country
By Sara Jean Green
Seattle Times - November 23, 2012

A $150,000 warrant was issued last week for the missing 25-year-old man, who has been charged with three counts of third-degree child molestation, papers say.

A 25-year-old religious instructor is believed to have fled to Guatemala after his relationship with a 14-year-old student was discovered by the girl's mother, according to charging documents filed in King County Superior Court.

A $150,000 warrant was issued last week for Lydia Katz, who has been charged with three counts of third-degree child molestation, papers say.

Katz taught at two Seattle-area temples, worked at a Jewish children's camp over Labor Day weekend and tutored children preparing for their bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, say the papers, which do not identify which synagogues Katz was associated with.

Katz met the 14-year-old at the girl's temple in September 2011 when she was a student in his eighth-grade Jewish religion class, charging papers say. The two began spending time alone together, both at Katz's North Seattle residence and at a park near both of their houses, the papers say.

The girl's mother became suspicious of the relationship this September and, after checking her daughter's email account, found romantic emails between the two, according to charging papers.

The mother confronted her daughter, who admitted to having a romantic relationship with Katz; the girl called Katz, but her mother wouldn't let him come inside the house, the papers say.

Katz later texted the mother, telling her he was in love with the 14-year-old, charging papers say.

"As things stand, I am at your mercy. My career, my freedom, all I have ever worked to build; these things you can destroy, with one simple call or email," Katz said in a text to the girl's mother, according to the papers.

The girl told a Seattle police detective that the two kissed and touched each other, the papers say.

In conversations at his house, Katz also spoke to several 14-year-olds "about sexual subjects, such as safely engaging in Bondage/Domination/Sado-Masochistic sex," charging papers state.

He was fired after his relationship with the 14-year-old was discovered, the papers say, and his phone was disconnected. Though he responded to one email a Seattle detective sent to him, he has not replied to subsequent messages, the papers say.

As a teacher and volunteer in Jewish schools and communities, Katz is described "as a dynamic and charismatic individual who is able to easily engage with youth," charging papers say.


Lydia Katz’s Bio
Eureka, CA

I'm a Black, Native American, Irish, German, Rumanian, Jewish, Polyamorus, 2nd generation Queerspawn. Any questions?

Lydia Katz - Alleged Sex Offender (2009)
At the end of my 22nd summer, I went on a journey of great importance. My wanderings brought me to a place of retreat, a sanctuary of love and connectivity without boundaries. Amongst those assembled where some who had called this place a home for many years, and yet others who, like myself, were initiates into this marvelous community. We were old and young, male and female, gay and straight, and every combination and variation which may lay between.

I felt awe and wonder filling each moment of my days. Surrounded by the warmth and kindness of these blessed souls, I for the first time was able to feel completely at peace with myself and my world. For hours we would sit together, speaking of truths beyond the understanding of most others. In those days we made music and sang melodies filled with joy. We lay beneath a shifting sky of blue and white, content in the peace of the moment. We ate in concert, slumbered in commons, and shared the depths of our souls.

As all tales do, so this did come to an end. With a heavy heart I parted from those whom I had come to care for so dearly. For hours I walked among them, exchanging embraces of both sadness and joy. When I was nearly prepared to leave, a cherub of incalculable innocence and pristine spirit clasped onto me, refusing to let go. She said only, "Don't leave me." I tried to explain that the road ahead of me was long, and that I had need to make haste, lest weariness overtake me. No matter what reasoning I gave, her protest remained the same. "Don't leave me." It was with my promise to return before the close of the year that she released me. Yet the sadness in her eyes as she stepped back grasped my heart like a clenched fist. I repeated my promise, illiciting a plaintive nod from her spritely head. Then I turned and walked away, the weight of that pained gaze heavy upon my back.

This is the tale of the end of my 22nd summer, the time when I found peace within myself.

What's the origin of your name?

When my older brother was 2 weeks old, a friend of my father's named "Lydia" came to our home. She told my mom that my spirit was over my brother's shoulder, and that we should have been born twins. She said that I had to be born within the next 2 years so that we could grow up together and achieve the destinies that we were supposed to in this incarnation. I was born 1 year and 10 months later, and Lydia died in a car accident two months before I was born. So, I was named after her.

Poly And Religion: Poly And Jewish

Lydia Katz - Alleged Sex Offender  (2009)
For Poly And Religion week, aspiring Rebbe Lydia Katz examines polyamory from the Jewish perspective. The good news? There's halacha (Jewish law) to support it. The bad news? The supported poly styles are harder to find among practiced polys, and the number of practicing polyamorous Jews is staggeringly low. For many polyamorous observant Jews, this means a near-constant struggle between multiple love and being at peace with G-d.

There’s a common joke within Judaic culture. “If you have three Jews, you’ll get five opinions.”

This couldn’t be truer than when dealing with issues of sexuality and relationships. Along the spectrum, from the most liberal to the most orthodox, you can find over ten distinctive categories of Jews, and that’s just looking at the Euro/American side of the tribe. There are still thousands of Hebrews located throughout South America, Africa, India, and Asia that have their own distinct views, practices and expressions of tradition. Please, as you read this article, try to keep this vast diversity of practice and perspective in your mind. What I will be discussing is my relationship to polyamory, as a Jew. While there are many who might relate, it would be wrong of me to write this article without being clear that I by no means speak for the entirety of the Jews, or even the Jews involved in this practice.

To properly express how I experience polyamory (and the poly community) as a Jew, I have to first explain how Judaism fits into the framework of American society, as well as my own consciousness. According to the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), the vast majority of Americans that identify as Jews do so culturally, without a significant level of observance. This means that, for most of the Jews in this country, Judaism is something for seasonal holidays, and lunch with the family at Canter’s Deli.Part of the fundamental reason for the pervasiveness of secular thought in the Jewish community is the transition into “whiteness” that American Jews experienced. Prior to WWII, Jews were still highly marginalized socially, and discriminated against in the workplace. After the war, Jewish GIs received the same amount from the government as “white” soldiers, while their colored counterparts received substantially less from their GI bill. This allowed the Jews, who were already deeply committed to persuing higher education, to attend more colleges, and buy homes in the newly created suburbs, both being places that outright rejected most people of color. With this envelopment into whiteness, American Jews found that it was much easier to move ahead if they left behind the aspects of Judaism that were most alien to their new Christian and secular neighbors.
Lydia Katz - Alleged Sex Offender (2009)
In my experience as a Jew, I was lucky enough to been born into a family that, at the end of the twentieth century, held a position of social marginality that could be compared to pre-WWII Judaism. My father is a black, transgender, born-again Christian; my mother is a white, bisexual, Jewish hippie. Being both black and queerspawn left me with no real communal identity that I could hold onto, other than being a Jew. I was not raised around other black people, and because of my interfaith parentage, I really couldn’t relate to the few other black kids in my schools. Yet, in temple, I was surrounded by wealthy white kids, with straight parents, and a primarily secular worldview. So I constructed my identity around the traditions of the Jewish people, as I (with my highly intersectional view) perceived them.

So, what does this have to do with being a poly Jew?


When considering the relation of this to polyamory, it is clear as day that we are dealing with a fundamentally different social paradigm. Today, in the western world, women generally have the same rights as men. Therefore, the fear of a rival for reasons of financial security does not hold the same sway as it did more than two millennia ago. However, when evaluating polyamory, the idea of rivalry is nonetheless a serious issue.

Rivalry, in the sense of modern polyamory, is a matter of emotional investment and security, rather than economic. Whereas, in ancient times, men could have as many mistresses as they wanted, so long as there was no social status put into the relationship, within the realm of ethical polyamory, this ceases to be the case. Because rivalry is about conflict over time, attention, and affection, in the modern sense, this also means that unless the relationship one has with their spouse is without any sense of need or disappointment, neither partner can, by biblical imperative, focus on any other romantic partners.
As I said earlier, each Jew has their own way of relating to the traditions, based on many overlapping factors. To understand my world, as a poly Jew, it’s important to understand where my perspective as a Jew comes from, and how I express/experience Judaism in my life.

It's important at this point that I note one thing: I am an observant Jew. This means I keep kosher, wear a head covering when outside of my home, observe the Sabbath, and regularly attend shul. Judaism isn’t a "sometimes" thing to me. It is the foundation of all of my interpersonal relations, and the core of the ethical construct which I use to govern my life.

The most common questions people ask me are, “How can you be religious and poly? Isn’t that against the bible?” The answers to those questions are “easily,” and an emphatic “NO!”

The second point is one that has been debated for millennia, and comes from Lev 18:18, “Do not marry a woman as a rival to her sister and uncover her nakedness in the other’s lifetime.” This verse is heavily analyzed by Angelo Tosato in his paper The Law of Leviticus 18:18, A Reexamination.” Tosato points out first that this passage is not referring to actual sisters. The Hebrew, when properly translated, is clearly referring to taking another woman from the community as an additional wife to one’s first spouse.

I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t that proscribing poly relationships?”

Well, the answer is both yes, and no.

The key point here, which Tosato misses, is the phrase “as a rival…” To understand the importance of this phrase we have to consider the nature of the matrimonial institution, as it was, in the Middle East, about 2,500-3,000 years ago. Remember, in the ancient world, women rarely owned property, or had any significant social standing of their own. This meant that a woman’s physical security and comfort were entirely dependant on her husband. In this scenario, the law of Lev 18:18 ensured that there would be no feuding over material wealth, and inheritance rights between wives.
For an observant poly Jew, there can never be a pyramid structure model for relationships. By this, I mean that one cannot have a primary/secondary/tertiary model of relationships. In doing so, there would be an inherent sense of rivalry instilled in the partners. However, this does not mean that there are no models of polyamory that are congruent with Judaic tradition. Poly-fidelity is the most acceptable form of polyamory, within a traditional mindset. This works regardless of whether all partners are involved with one another, or if there are multiple people in relationships with one central figure, so long as they maintain a position of equal importance within each other’s lives. Another acceptable form would be in the case of a Leather Family, wherein there are two individuals (spouses) who have one or more submissives. Because there would not be an equal position between spouses, and submissives, this scenario is also a viable option.

Looking at the things above, it becomes clear that, in an observant Jewish sense, polyamory is far more about the amory than the poly. However, on a personal level, this has made Seattle a difficult place to live as a part of the poly community here. Washington is statistically placed among the ten least religiously observant states in the country. This statistic is even higher among Jews and poly people. Most poly individuals have reached a point in their lives where they are tired of being harassed by religious conservatives for their views. Because of this, many of these idividuals have chosen to leave behind the religious tradition of their birth. An additional difficulty for me in this poly community is the preponderance of paganism. While I have tried to bend my religious rules somewhat, I’ve found that, for someone who is a life partner, I cannot be with a pagan. There is simply too much within the Jewish tradition and scripture that forbids these kinds of romantic relationships for me to accept a pagan as a spouse. While having a D/s relationship might work, even this would be extremely difficult if they could not comfortably abide by my religious rules in my presence.

Religiosity aside, there remains one more serious conflict I find between myself and the Seattle poly community. Whereas the primary ethos of this community, in regards poly relationships, seems to be based on ethical sluthood, I want to have meaningful, lifelong relationships. I have no interest in having one main partner and a battery of lovers that each might get one day out of a month. While this sentiment is partly based in Torah, it also comes from knowledge of myself. I love fully, and completely, and I want whomever I am with to do the same.

Unfortunately, the truth of all these issues combined is, if I find a partner that practices Judaism as I do, the likelihood is strong that they will not be part of the poly community. While this bothered me for some time, it no longer does. In fact, I actually prefer it this way.

When I first discovered polyamory, and the way it was practiced by most of the people I met, I thought it was the perfect fit for me, since I didn’t think that anyone could ever love all of me. I figured that, with all of the various parts of myself, there couldn’t be anyone who genuinely appreciated and cherished all of who I am. Since then, I have realized it was really my own lack of self-love that was the bigger problem. Because I could not love myself, I could not truly express my full love to any of my partners.

Now, because of the various partners I have in one way or another loved over the years, I have come to understand: While I would like to be able to express the fullness of my heart to everyone around me, I can only do that from a place of strong personal love. And, now that I have reached that place, I no longer feel the need to be actively poly, or even actively dating for that matter. Eventually, I’m sure my life partner(s) will show herself (or themselves). Until that time, I am happy to simply be in love with myself, and my God, and to share that love with all of the world around me.

About the Author
Lydia S Katz - Writer - Active Contributor
Lydia (pronounced "le DEE uh") Katz is a black polyamorous Jew, originally from Los Angeles, CA. Raised in a queer, interfaith household, Lydia was blessed to experience a life so far outside the box, he couldn't even see the walls. After discovering polyamory at 22, Lydia began leading educational programs on sex positivity for his university.
Lydia lives in Seattle, WA. He is studying to become a Rabbi.

It's OK to be You (YouTube) - Potential Grooming video
YouTube - April 15, 2011


Armor (YouTube)
- Potential Grooming video
YouTube - April 27, 2011



Disney Wisdom (YouTube)
- Potential Grooming video
YouTube - April 15, 2012


Jesus was a Black Jew


Bio on Lydia Katz's Blog - New Israel Gospel
By Lydia Katz
New Israel Gospel Blog - April 27, 2011

Alleged Sex Offender - Lydia Katz at The Mall of America
Born in august of 1987, Lydia Katz grew up in Los Angeles, California. The son of a white, Jewish, bisexual artist and teacher (mother), and a black, Christian, transsexual (MtF) musician, Lydia was blessed by being raised so far outside the box, it's borders weren't even on the horizon. As he grew, interacting with people from every possible walk of life, Lydia came to have a deep and profound connection with the faith of his upbringing, Judaism. After beginning to work as a teacher's assistant at his home temple from the age of sixteen, Lydia was inspired to follow the clergical path and become a Rabbi. Lydia continued his education at Humboldt State University, where he graduated from the Religious Studies department in the spring of 2011. Lydia now is preparing to move from Arcata, ca to outside of Seattle, Wa. There he will continue his studies in preparation for rabbinical school, and work to promote plurality of consciousness in both religious and secular fields.


Lydia Katz's Bio on his Blog - Keroscenery
April 2011

About me

Gender Male
Location Seattle, Washington 
Introduction Born in august of 1987, Lydia Katz grew up in Los Angeles, California. The son of a white, Jewish, bisexual artist and teacher (mother), and a black, Christian, transsexual (MtF) musician, Lydia was blessed by being raised so far outside the box, it's borders weren't even on the horizon. As he grew, interacting with people from every possible walk of life, Lydia came to have a deep and profound connection with the faith of his upbringing, Judaism. After beginning to work as a teacher's assistant at his home temple from the age of sixteen, Lydia was inspired to follow the clergical path and become a Rabbi. Lydia continued his education at Humboldt State University, where he graduated from the Religious Studies department in the spring of 2011. Lydia now is preparing to move from Arcata, ca to outside of Seattle, Wa. There he will continue his studies in preparation for rabbinical school, and work to promote plurality of consciousness in both religious and secular fields.



mother wolf 
By Lydia Katz
Keroscenery - Saturday, November 17, 2012

This poem is the result of my natural history museum class with Hannah Tinti. I learned last week that wolves have awesomely interesting family dynamics--basically a pack can be composed of anywhere between two and a few dozen wolves, and the alpha couple are the parents of the rest of the gang. In order for the alpha female to maintain her position as matriarch, she has to constantly guard her mate from being seduced by one of her daughters. And hence:

my mother races through tundra,

is made wretched by swiveling owls,
and graceful tree waists. the whole night hangs
like a cloak in her mouth
while she runs.

each night, she licks my face

clean of all the blood she's torn
out of bodies for me
my bones grow on her sins.

but i am not so young. my father

prances like an exalted pup
over my mother's weapon body
and my hackles rise. my mother hunts;
i preen under the calloused moon.

while my mother lopes

stretching her clawed limbs, her
tangled muscles across
valleys of yawning snow
i am hunting, too.

my father licks his teeth;

i lie in wait. 


Shapeshifter's Dilemma
By Lydia Katz
Keronscenery - November 20, 2012
Many humans would like to forget
Talons split through fingertips,
Feather from breast; quickened chest
And the first flight, drunk on wind.
...And the first fall: hollow bones,
Then: how far not believing in your wings
Will get you, from home.

Many humans would like to forget
And lord, you don't know what you did to deserve
Rioting flesh, blood-matted fur, 
While you preen to hunt for your different prey:
A father who feeds you a different way; 
His moonlit sins smeared on your skin--
So, a mother to murder; a rank to win.

And many humans would like to forget
Their sluicing ghosts--translucent days
Mornings that wake them to whither and fade.
Then: wavering you--you poor, lifeless thing,
Utterly changed.
Freer than you've ever been, 
And so afraid.

Many humans would like to forget
But I saw you then. I know your face. 
Know you wake up changed, and drenched in shame.
Trembling you: you'll choose to forget
And I will carry your regret.
I will be left to remember your name.



  1. Seirei April 27, 2011 9:24 AM
    This is my senior project for my BA in Religious Studies. Enjoy!

Leather, Chains, and God: An Exploration of the Relationship Between BDSM and Abrahamic Religion  
By Lydia Katz
New Israel Gospel Blog - April 27, 2011
One of the tasks that the religious scholar must perform is the analysis of cross-cultural norms, both within religious fields, and in secular realms that have connections to religion. In doing so, the scholar can understand many of the deeper motivations behind actions, beliefs, and rituals that may otherwise seem to be obtuse. It is my belief that these hidden impetuses are the true focus of religious studies. Therefore, any area of society, no matter how obscure (or perhaps its because of ambiguity), is able to help unveil another layer of the religious consciousness and experience.

In accordance with this pluralistic view of religious scholarship, I have chosen to embark on an exploration of the parallels between the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and practitioners of BDSM, otherwise known as the “Leather/Kink Community.” The relationship between these communities is of interest to me for several reasons. First, within American society, the leather community holds a marginal position that was, at one time or another, shared by these religions in the course of their development. The second point of interest for me is the manner in which group exposure and inculcation takes place. What are the similarities between the everyday life of someone in a kink oriented lifestyle, and an individual who leads a religiously motivated life? My third motivation is the comparison of dominant and submissive (D/s) dynamics as they are played out in a religious context. As these dynamics are at the core of most BDSM experiences, as well as the foundation of the Abrahamic relationship with the divine, I feel that a more thorough understanding of D/s dynamics would shed a great deal of light on the religious experience. Through the process of analyzing the similarities in action and intention, I intend to examine the relationship between BDSM and Abrahamic religion

Before I continue, I must first ask you, the reader, to do one thing. If you would be so kind, please take a moment to abandon all preconceptions of what you believe BDSM to be. Just as with religion, most people’s views of BDSM (unless they are directly involved with the lifestyle) come from popular media sources. Unfortunately, whereas there are many educational media venues that one can learn about religion from, there are slim to none that display an academically based, scholarly discussion on the leather community. Therefore, most of what is viewed is on shows like CSI, Law and Order, or some other crime drama where the rapist/kidnapper/murderer has a dungeon in their basement (Cloud p.81). BDSM is also almost always directly linked to deviant sexual desires, focused on pain, resulting from some type of traumatic experience. Both of these are, in truth, false perceptions of an under-represented liminal community.

In reality, BDSM is a highly integrated, multi-faceted, communally oriented, lifestyle structure. It, like religious practice, has grown and developed gradually, over a great deal of time. BDSM is neither abusive, nor necessarily drawn from trauma in an individual’s past. The practice of BDSM is, for many initiates, is something that can lead one to powerful interpersonal connection, and often nurtures and amplifies transcendent experiences (Weinberg p.60, 64).

Therefore pause for a moment… Take a deep breath… Now let that ball of discomfort in the pit of your stomach unclench and relax. Another deep breath… Good, now lets begin.


The nature of transcendence is the movement of consciousness beyond the self.  In Masochism as an Escape from Self, Roy Baumeister discusses two levels of self-perception. Higher levels of consciousness, Baumeister argues, “involve symbolism, abstraction, and temporal extension” (Baumeister p. 36) These forms of perception concern the identity of the individual as a multi-faceted, social entity. While this level of perception is necessary, it can also become extremely burdensome.

Lower-level consciousness, rather than relating self to exterior forces, instead focuses attention on the physical self. Its prominent function is the awareness of the self as a physical entity. When one is completely immersed in lower-level consciousness, their abstract self is lost to the sensations of the body. Transcendence, however, does not lie in either of these fields, but rather in their dissolution (Baumeister p.37).

In The Idea of Holy, Rudolph Otto gives an in depth analysis of the transcendent experience.  To do this he utilizes the term “numenous.” As Otto proposes, the numenous is something of the mind that is related to and expressed in feeling. As Otto describes it:

“The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its 'profane', non-religious mood of everyday experience. It may burst in sudden eruption up from the depths of the soul with spasms and convulsions, or lead to the strangest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy, to transport, and to ecstasy. It has its wild and demonic forms and can sink to an almost grisly horror and shuddering. It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it may be developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of—whom or what? In the presence of that which is a mystery inexpressible and above all creatures.” (Otto, 1917)

The precise term Otto uses to illustrate the feeling of a numenous experience   is “mysterium tremendum.” This term literally means, to tremble in the face of an unfamiliar or extraordinary experience, one that is beyond the realm of personal understanding or conception. One of the components that is necessary to achieve this state, as Otto points out by drawing on the theories of Friedrich Schleiermacher, is determined by the level of dependence that the individual places on their relationship with the divine agency of their choice.

While Otto gives an excellent description of the nature of the transcendent experience, he does little to enumerate the methods of achieving these states. This is, of course, partly because his writings were nearly a hundred years ago. At that point in history, our technological aptitude had not yet advanced to the point of being able to examine brain states, i.e. neurology. It is particularly the evolution of neurological sciences that gave Ariel Glucklich the tools necessary to write Sacred Pain.

 When analyzing states of consciousness, we are, by necessity, discussing the human brain. Inspired by a friend who suffered from phantom limb pain, and who could not understand why someone would willingly experience intense pain for religious reasons, Glucklich attempts to explain how pain is created, transmitted, and processed. The second chapter of Sacred Pain is directly focused on the relationship between pain and transcendence.

The first thing to understand about the relation of pain to the brain and body is this; pain, as a sensation, is experienced in the brain, not the periphery. This is to say, rather than the body transferring pain to the brain via the nervous system, the brain actually reacts with the sensation of pain in response to traumatic influences on the body. Glucklich gives an example of this relating to phantom-limb pain, drawn from the work of neuropsychologist Ronald Melzack.

“Individuals who have undergone an amputation of a limb…experience similar and additional sensations (heat, cramps, stabs) ‘in’ the missing limb, though far more painfully. This is true for 72 percent of amputees a week after amputation, 60 percent six months later.” (Glucklich p. 54)

Melzack’s work follows that all sensation from the various peripheries of the body are processed through the “neuromatrix,” where they are shaped into patterns of understanding, finally being combined into coherent structures of awareness (Glucklich p.55). In terms to how pain alters states of consciousness, there are two explanations given.

The first is in relation to an extreme lack of sensory input. When the brain is cut off from sensory input, such as in isolation chambers, the brain begins to generate its own sensations, i.e. hallucinations. This would be pertinent in regards to phantom-limb pain. Here, because of the removal of the limb, the brain produces heightened levels of sensation in what it process to be the hand. Because the hand is no longer present, this pain is a hallucination. However, because sensation is processed in the brain rather than the limb, the pain felt is equally real to the individual experiencing it (Glucklich p.57).

In the reverse, when the neuromatrix is flooded with sensory input, such as ongoing, intense pain, it minimizes responsive output, thus reducing all mental processes. This results in a feeling of disconnection with one’s physical and individual self (a loss of both higher and lower levels of consciousness) thereby creating a universally perceptive form of awareness (Glucklich p.58-59).

However, this type of macrocosmic consciousness need not necessarily be initiated by pain. Rhythmic dancing, fervent prayer, intense labor, and meditation are also ways by which one can attain a transcendent state. While both legitimate and important these alternative forms of achieving a  transcendent state of consciousness will not receive focus in this study. This is because within BDSM, it is most often pain that pens the door to these mental planes.


BDSM is an acronym that stands for three types of relationship dynamics; Bondage & discipline, dominance & submission, and sadism & masochism. In the following section, I will work to explain the nature of each of these relationship roles, how they interact with each other, and how they manifest in the daily lives of modern kink practitioners.
In his paper Sadomasochism in the United States, Thomas Weinberg points out five social factors that he considers to be integral to BDSM. These are dominance and submission, mutual definition, role playing, consentuality, and a sexual context (Weinberg p.56). I agree with this list for the most part, however, I would make two variations. First, I would not use the term “role playing.” I believe that this implies a temporary nature to the roles that are adopted within a kink context. While it is true that these roles can be assumed playthings for brief periods of time, for many who are in intensely involved relationships, the roles they assume are not parts to be played in some drama. They are aspects of the identity that become deeply ingrained in the psyche of the practitioner. I therefore prefer to substitute the term role assimilation. My second adaptation to Weinberg’s list is the inclusion of sexual context as integral to BDSM. While BDSM is usually highly sexualized, this is not in fact necessary for an experience to be included in the umbrella of the leather community. Even though eroticism is often at the heart of the kink experience (I really can’t argue with that), there are often times when someone might engage in a scene with someone whom they are not in any way attracted to. This could be because of the other’s request, monetary exchange, or simply a part of a non-erotic friendship. Eroticism is therefore not inherently necessary in the experience of BDSM.

Since it is within Weinberg’s list of social factors, the relationship dynamic I intend to address first is that of dominance and submission. A relationship that is based on D/s dynamics focuses on an exchange of power between individuals, wherein one individual, either for a brief period, or on an ongoing basis, willingly releases control of some aspect of their being to another.

This submission, as noted, can take place on many levels. For some it is a purely physical experience. These practitioners give their body to another, often so that they can experience some type of mental, emotional, or spiritual release. The process of physical submission in this situation facilitates a cathartic release of pent up energies within the submissive. For others, the nature of their submission may not only include the exchange of physical control, but also strict mental surrender and discipline . For these kinksters, the act of submission can include protocol for behaviors, affirmations or mantras, titles for addressing dominants, and perhaps even some types of hypnotic personality modification. Their surrender goes beyond physical play, into a deeply integrated experience of personal growth and development, both for dominants and submissives.

The most intense level of surrender is when the submissive, in body, mind, and spirit, relinquishes control of their self to the dominant. Within the leather community, those partners who attain this level of D/s dynamic are said to have entered into a Master/slave (M/s) relationship. For those in a relationship oriented on a M/s dynamic, there develops a profound matrix of interdependence, often pushing all parties involved to examine the most densely veiled parts of themselves.

On the opposite of the D/s spectrum lies the dominant individual. With the dominant identified practitioner, there is also a great deal of self-sacrifice and surrender. The nature of this however is not the same type of exchange that occurs with the submissive. Whereas with the submissive power is relinquished, the dominant must be in ultimate control of all possible elements in the encounter and/or relationship. For those participating in a scene, there is the necessity to at the least know the medical and psychological history of the bottom. They must further be aware of the body language of the bottom, their emotional response, and the necessary decompression time after an encounter.

For someone in a fully D/s relationship there is also the everyday wellbeing of the individual, especially further towards the M/s side of the spectrum. To take responsibility for the safety, and potentially the life choices of another human being requires that one invest a great deal of themselves in the process.

Returning to the beginning of the BDSM acronym, we change our focus to bondage and discipline. These two elements mirror each other in a most interesting manner. Bondage focuses primarily on various forms of fastening and restriction. These may include, but are hardly limited to, rope work, cuffs and chains, leather restraints, and various types of suspension. The factor that is shared, regardless of the bondage method, is that one individual (whether from their own action, or those of another) is left in a state where various parts of their body are in one way or another being acted upon in a binding manner by an outside element.

As Baumeister hypothesized in Masochism as Escape from Self, bondage limits the awareness of the subjected individual to their existence as a bodily entity (Baumeister p. 40). This in turn creates a greater awareness of physical sensation, and allows the bound individual to become more deeply immersed in an overall interaction.

Discipline on the other hand stresses not physical, but mental restriction. Within the act of discipline, the submissive individual works to limit their behavior to that which is desired by their dominant. In a short encounter this may be evident in the submissive following commands promptly, and with devotion. For more deeply D/s based relationships, the submissive may be required to maintain a particular standard of grooming, style of speech, memory of commands, and any number of such things. 

There are times, however, when a submissive does not complete their task as desired, or fails to uphold the standards they are obligated to. In these cases, there is the need for the individual to be disciplined. This can be as simple as saying, “Never mind, I’ll do it myself!” For a service oriented individual, this is as effective of a penalization, if not more so, as if they were physically reprimanded. Nonetheless, physical discipline often times is included in BDSM, either to correct behavior, or simply for the pleasure of sensation.

Without a doubt, the most sensationalized aspect of BDSM is SM: sadism and masochism. Coined by psychiatrist Richard von Kraft-Eibing, these terms respectively refer to the experiencing of intense pleasure resulting from either the giving of pain, or it’s reciprocal experience (Cloud p.4). As I noted earlier, most depictions of SM behavior in broad media sources have a highly pronounced negative bias. The usual perception is one of three things, leather-clad gay men, a tall dominatrix with her slave boy kneeling obediently, or an abusively misogynistic heterosexual encounter. While the first two identifications of the leather community are drawn from within the community, the third is a fabricated societal misconception, originating from fear of a potent counter culture community.

Until recently, the trend of viewing sadistic and masochistic behaviors as some sort of mental aberration was the common practice in psychological and social scholarship. This view, inspired by the initial definition given by Eibing, and the labeling of SM as neurosis by Freud, was further biased by the majority of studies regarding sadistic and masochistic behavior choosing their samples from clinical, rather than ordinary patients (Baumeister p.28) . Within the context of BDSM, the individuals encountered are in possession of their full mental facilities. The reason for their desire of pain cannot therefore be linked to tendencies of self-harm. Rather, as Baumeister proposes, masochism in a BDSM context is an attempt to escape from the self.

Whereas Baumeister suggested that masochistic activity utilized pain to help the subject transition from higher (abstract, identity oriented) to lower (physical, bodily oriented) levels of consciousness, this is only part of the effect of masochistic practice. As Glucklich pointed out, when someone undergoes intense physical stimulation their brain ceases to generate neural sensory response (Glucklich p. 58-59). This, as noted earlier, creates the transcendent consciousness. While some masochists end their escape in the realm of Baumeister’s lower-level consciousness, for many others the entire reality of self-awareness disintegrates entirely.

Sadism, the natural reciprocal of masochism, is characterized by the enjoyment of seeing discomfort, or inflicting pain upon others. This enjoyment, which, like masochistic pleasure, can be either erotic, or non-erotic depending on the situation and the individuals participating. While sadism is by nature cruel, within the context of BDSM it is also highly monitored and regulated. A clinical sadist has no care for the wellbeing of their victim, reveling in their psychological as well as physical torment. A sadist within the leather community always is concerned with the health and wellbeing of their counterpart. This is the difference between criminal and consensual sadism.

Sacred Kink 

A text that helps shed great light on the possible connections between the Abrahamic faiths and BDSM is Sacred Kink by Lee Harrington. This book, inspired by The Eightfold Path to Altered States of Consciousness (Raven Kaldera), elaborates on eight possible paths within BDSM that one can use to deepen meaning in their actions, and achieve transcendent states of consciousness. The paths are:

¨     The Path of Rhythm
¨     The Ordeal Path
¨     The Path of the Flesh
¨     The Path of Ritual
¨     The Path of Breath
¨     The Path of the Horse
¨     The Path of Asceticism
¨     The Path of Sacred Plants

Out of these eight paths, there are four that are of particular interest in regards to the Abrahamic faiths. These are the paths of the ordeal, ritual, the horse, and asceticism. While the other paths have their respective places in some aspects of each faith, I believe that it is these four that are most deeply expressed in the practice of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In the following pages, I will discuss the nature and spirit of these paths, the ways they are expressed in both the religions of Abraham, and the practice of BDSM.

As Harrington says, the path of the ordeal is characterized by when “using purposeful and intentional pain, suffering, challenges, or endurance, an individual is pushed past or through their perceived limits” (Harrington p.76). These limits can be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or however the person going through the journey sees themselves being forced beyond their boundaries. It is the journey of breaking barriers, exploring into the awesome unknown, and returning a metamorphosed being.

There are three forms of ordeals that can take place, regardless of the particular elements that create the struggle. Some individuals enter into clearly understood, staunchly loyal relationships that entail their being continually tested, pushed, and used in ways beyond their understanding and safety zone.  These types of interactions are what I refer to as contracted ordeals, where the individual continuously, and consciously submits themselves to a dominant force.

In the second type of ordeal, the individual is told what is going to happen to them, whether they like it or not. They’re submission still occurs; however it is with great reluctance and tribulation until it’s completion.

With both of the previous ordeal examples, the individual in the submissive position, despite any reluctance they might feel, is still aware of the plan behind the trials they are forced to undergo. There are however some times where a person has no idea for what reason, or to what end they endure their struggle. It is not until after the transformation of self has occurred that the journeyer comes to know the purposes behind the experience.  This third type of ordeal is what I chose to call the imposed ordeal.

To find the perfect example of a contracted follower of the path of ordeal within Judaism, we need look no further than the man to whom all three groups trace their lineage: Abraham. Beginning his quest in Ur, the man named Avram was told:

“Go forth from your native land and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a nation, and I will bless you…” (Gen 12:1-2)

From Haran, Avram continued through the tests that God placed before him, willingly proceeding through his ordeals. In the course of these tribulations, he an his wife are given new names by God, from then forth being known as Abraham and Sarah. The final ordeal that must be faced is perhaps the most difficult possible for any parent; to be willing to sacrifice one’s only (remaining) child. Once this loyalty is proven, the covenant of Abraham is extended through the generation to each of his descendants. This also means that to be a part of than covenant, one will continuously be tested by the divine.

In terms of the reluctant follower, we can see a prime example in the very relationship between the peoples of Israel, and their God. The reluctant follower is characterized by the enduring their ordeal, while struggling and resisting the burden throughout the journey. From the first interaction between God and Moses, through the years wandering in the wilderness, and even up to perhaps the most influential Jew in history (to be discussed later), the story of the Jewish people perfectly illustrates the reluctant ordeal. Within the structure of this example, there are three relationships at play: God/Moses, God/Israel, Moses/Israel.

The relationship between God and his primary servant is, from the first moment, a strained one. The strain comes not from Moses’ lack of faith or belief in his Master, but rather of a failing of confidence in himself and his people. When God appears in the form of the burning bush, Moses argues from every possible angle as to why his appointed task will fail. He claims that the people will not listen to him because his god has no name, or because he (Moses) has a speech impediment, or because he has no proof. Despite his arguments, God nonetheless insists that Moses follow the path before him, and continues to do so until he ceased to be an obedient servant. It is important to note, even though he struggled with being able to complete his tasks, Moses never stopped serving obediently until the end of his leadership.

The relationship between God and the people of Israel is, in design, a simple one. There is a set of rules that has been given to the people by God, and, if they follow these rules with obedience and devotion, they will be rewarded with health, prosperity, and an enduring continuation of the bloodline. The problem here is that the people, without a personal relationship with the divine, had no one to properly turn to when confronted with doubts. This is where the connection between Moses and the people comes into play.  The people of Israel, being a stubborn bunch, need Moses to constantly remind them of the right path, intercede to assuage God’s anger, and repent for their indiscretions. 

In essence, the multi-layered pattern of this example is very much aligned with an ordeal scene in BDSM in several ways. In one manner, the people of Israel represent the bottom, Moses plays the part of the top, observance of God’s law is the ordeal that must be experienced, and the blessing of the covenant is the outcome of the journey. In another way, Moses is bottom to God, being led through the ordeal of leading the people of Israel. For Moses however, the outcome of his ordeal is not a revelation of self, but rather a transformation of the people whom he leads.

In terms of the imposed ordeal, the story of Joseph is almost self-explanatory. Even though he is given hints of the outcome in his dreams, Joseph is completely unaware of the mechanism of his ordeal, the purpose of his trials, or even to where he is being led. He made no agreement; there was no comfort or communication. Joseph simply (or maybe not so much) retained his faith in the god of his forefathers, and, through his endurance, was rewarded with the power to lead his people into great prosperity.

When looking at the ordeal path within Christianity, Paul represents the quintessential contracted follower. Having come from the position of vehemently staunch opposition to the Christ Cult, Paul, through his revelation on the road to Damascus, enters into a covenant of evangelization. From that point onwards, Paul must undergo the ordeal of spreading the gospel of Christ throughout the known world.

Interestingly enough, the reluctant servant is portrayed perfectly in Jesus himself. When considering Jesus in this light, it is important to understand that, unlike Moses and Paul, the act of leading and preaching to a people was not his ordeal. It is the act of being crucified that truly represents the path of the ordeal in the life of Jesus.

How then does Jesus represent the reluctant servant? Didn’t he willingly die for the sins of humanity? In a sense, yes, Jesus did, both literally and figuratively, bear his own cross. However, as was noted with the example of Moses, reluctance is something of the mind. Jesus shows his fear and humanity perfectly in the garden of Gethsemane, crying out in Mt 26:39, Mk 14:36, and Lk 22:42, “Father… take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours…” From these words, we can see that even though he was dedicated to the service of his father and God, Jesus was in no way comfortable with the idea of being crucified.

The imposed ordeal appears beautifully in the Christian tradition with the history of Hildegard von Bingen. One ascetic path within medieval Christianity, normally entered into voluntarily, was that of the Anchorite. These individuals would be sealed within a small cell connected to the church by a small window, through which food and a chamber pot could be passed. Hildegard, however, did not have a choice in following this path. Being the tenth child of a noble family, Hildegard was tithed to the church at the age of eight. She was put into the care of Juta, a consensual Anchoress. From that point until Juta’s death, Hildegard remained under her tutelage in the cell they shared.

After her release from her ordeal, Hildegard went on to become one of the only prominent female figures in medieval Christian history. Her wisdom and guidance was sought by all, from court nobles, to the papal state.

Whereas one can, as shown above, find examples of all three types of ordeals in Judaism and Christianity, the idea of being anything but a fully devoted, contracted servant to Allah is directly contrary to Islam. It could be said that the core of the faith has its foundation in the conscious, consensual undertaking of the contracted ordeal. Within the language if Islam, this is known as jihad.

There are four viable expressions of jihad that have been decided upon by ulema (Muslim jurists). These are through the heart, the tongue, the mind, and the sword. Even though most western audiences perceive jihad as being principally militaristic in nature, the prophet Muhammad said that this was in fact the lesser jihad. It is in truth the jihad of the mind that Muhammad says is the greater path. This is the focused, constant striving to live, think, and act in accordance to the laws and morals of Allah. The greater jihad is called such because, while war must sometimes be waged, one must always resist over indulgence in the base temptations of the human body (Mohammad, 1985).

For someone participating in BDSM, the first ordeal they must face is simply recognizing and coming to terms with the fact that they have these tendencies and are interested in the lifestyle. The first time going into a dungeon, being involved in a scene, entering into a relationship. All of these can be ordeals in their own right (Harrington p.).

When one is attempting to go through a structured ordeal, designed to purposefully push someone past their mental or physical breaking point, complete trust between the dominant and submissive is absolutely essential. This is the contracted ordeal. The submissive cannot safe word out, for even if they try, it might not be accepted. Knowing that this process is for their personal betterment, the submissive completely puts their trust in the dominant to know when it is best to pull them out. This is especially true of initiation practices.

On the other hand, sometimes a dominant may want to lend their submissive out to another for a prearranged period of time. This can be a huge ordeal for both parties, as the sub and dom must both then extend their trust to the third party. Usually, this is most trying on the submissive. I would place this scenario in the realm of the reluctant ordeal. The submissive may not desire to play with the other person, but they do so because their master wills it. This is similar to the reluctant ordeal.

The imposed ordeal takes form in BDSM through the little (or not so much) surprises that one encounters along the way. As noted earlier, the first of these is discovery of kinky tendencies within oneself. One can have this knowledge for years without any context or outlet. When this happens, it creates a constant burden on the consciousness. When positive community is found, the ordeal shifts from bearing kinkiness as a burden, to exploring it’s depths and reconciling with one finds there, whether they like it or not.

In reviewing our examination of the path of the ordeal, we see two strong correlations between BDSM and Abrahamic religions. The first element that ties together BDSM and the religions of Abraham within the path of the ordeal is the outcome of transformation and discovery. Consider for a moment the examples given above. Abraham, through his journeys, not only proves his devotion to God. In this process of constant testing, Abraham is hardened into a pious follower of his God, and an example of devoted leadership for his descendents to learn from. By keeping his faith, despite inexplicable hardship, Jacob is placed in a position where he has the power to move his entire tribe to a plentiful life in Egypt. Through following the laws dictated by Moses, the Israelite tribes become united (albeit inconstantly) force that has persisted to this day.

As experienced by Paul, the benefits of the path of ordeal was giving a new spiritual vehicle to the masses, in order to help them better become acquainted with the divine. Likewise, the ordeal of Christ was meant to open a pathway by which humanity could find salvation. The personal type of transformation is exemplified in the miraculous visions of Hildegard von Bingen, a divine gift in return for her tenure as an Anchoress.

For a Muslim, the greater jihad concerns itself with the transformation of self, while the lesser jihad focuses on the manifestation of divine will within the world. Through the process of the quest for personal and communal perfection, a Muslim works to manifest divine eminence on earth.

Transformation within the BDSM ordeal can  take form in many ways. Individuals might relive and heal past traumas, become aware of unknown parts of themselves, overcome limitations, or have any number other experiences. The crucial factor in comparing the BDSM ordeal with Abrahamic faith is the role of the D/s relationship, and it’s influence on the growth and development of the individual undergoing the ordeal.

When considering the D/s relationship, we must recognize that there are two elements at play in this relationship; the love of the dominant for the submissive, and the trust in the dominant held by the submissive. In the relationship between God and humanity, ordeals are not given simply on a divine whim. There is always the purpose of helping the submissive agent (be the an individual, or a community) to reach a worthy goal. In the same light, for the submissive to ever reach the end of their ordeal, they must put their full faith and trust in the divine. If one loses faith, then they essentially fail the trials presented.

Within the Leather Community, this same relationship of love and faith is essential. Here, rather than entrusting one’s life and wellbeing to God, the submissive is giving their physical, mental, and emotional health into the care of another human being (who is likely going to do various levels of damage to their person). The dominant in turn must approach the ordeal having shed their ego, letting their actions flow from love of, and concern for the object of their ministrations. It is only from this position of open ended love that the dominant can successfully lead their partner to the most beneficial possible culmination of their journey.

Something in which both BDSM, and the religious traditions of focus are undeniably rooted in, ritual separates both consciousness and space into divided realms. Eliade chose to refer to these areas as the sacred and the profane. As Eliade points out, the sacred is that which is “…wholly different from the profane” (Eliade p. 11). Whether referring to an object, place, or person, the sacred is distinguished by being of a more intense and meaningful quality than that which is the normal perception.

Ritual then is the key that unlocks the door from the profane to the sacred. About ritual, Harrington says:

 “Ritual is often employed for purposes of grounding one’s self, to set one’s focus and intention… Repeated use of ritual may also train the brain to associate certain activities and states of consciousness with specific situations… allowing one to more easily enter altered states of consciousness.” (Harrington p.144)

In terms of religion, the many forms and patterns of ritual are available for exploration. The Hebrew bible gives extensive detail as to the proper execution of various rituals, based on different times, places, and purposes. Out of the 613 laws found in the Tanakh, there are some that outline daily life, while others regard events of passage (circumcision, weddings, etc…). There are a set of laws directly outlining the proper methods of priestly practice, laws regarding sacrifice, laws detailing social classes. It could easily be said that essential purpose of observant Jewish practice is to create a life filled with ritual, thereby making one’s entire world sacred.

Christian ritual, while also working to create a sacred space, is limited to formal times of worship. These times are usually weekly prayer services, holidays, rites of passage, and the act of confession. Within Christianity, there is also the practice of ritualized spontaneity (testimony, dancing, etc…), however, this is usually within the space of weekly services. Through ritualized action in these areas, a Christian does not create a sacred space out of their lives, but rather they sanctify themselves in relationship with Christ.

Within a Muslim context, the purpose of ritual is very similar to its use within Judaism. Just as with Judaism’s ten commandments, Islam rests upon the Five Pillars

{1)Recognition of Allah as the one God, and Muhammad as the prophet, 2) charity, 3) daily prayer, 4) fasting on Ramadan, 5) and making the pilgrimage to Mecca} as the foundation of the faith. Out of these, all but the first are acts of ritual designed to focus one’s mind on Allah. These basic tenants are in turn supported by the vast body of shariah (law), dictating right manners of life and social interaction. By immersing oneself in sharia, an individual creates a life where every aspect of life is filled with ritual (Mohammad, 1985). Just as with its Hebraic predecessor, Islam uses ritual to create a sacred space out of one’s life.

(Note: Connection between kink/religio; affirmation of relationship, centering of focus, separation of time/space)

In terms of the separation of time and space from the profane into the sacred, one must keep in mind that two tools are used to accomplish this task. The first is the process of affirming relationships. Specific rituals can affirm the relationship between people and the divine, each other, an authority figure, even the world. By placing importance on the roles played in a ritual, the individuals participating cement their identities in those characters. In some religious cases, this can be relatively simple (wrapping tefillin, salat, the Eucharist), while in others it is much more intense. It is in the more extreme forms of ritual that masochistic tendencies are most likely to appear. Some examples of these rituals are live crucifixions in the Philippines on Easter Sunday, self flagellation for the martyrdom of Hussein, and the use of the celice by Opus Dei.

For those in the leather community, ritual uses daily affirmations, honorifics, protocol, body positions, and a plethora of other tools to help individuals more thoroughly assimilate their roles. It is reassuring for a slave when their master says those special words that meant they have done well in their task. Likewise, by repeating certain commands and phrases, both parties can more firmly cement their relationship in reality.

The second task that ritual accomplishes is the centering of focus. Just as there are specific places set aside as sacred space for worship (i.e. synagogues, churches, mosques), so too are there locations removed from the world where one can fully immerse themselves in BDSM (i.e. dungeons). These places that are removed from contextually profane society serve as a place wherein one can completely turn their attention to the moment. This is possible because, by removing profane elements from the experience, one can be more attentive to the task (ritual) at hand.

Precise forms of  ritual designed to draw focus to the moment manifests in religion through practices such as the wearing of a tallit, purification of self before entering a mosque, or the anointing with holy water in a church. When viewed in the context of BDSM, centering rituals can include preparation of tools, specific acts of binding, and breathing exercises, as well as many other things (as tends to be the case). These rituals help both the top and bottom become more fully immersed in the moment, building energy and connection with each action.

The Horse
The path of the horse opens those who walk this road to be the vessel, or channel of the divine. In terms of our religions of interest, horsing is the path of prophecy and miracles. It is the road of the ecstatic worshiper, welcoming the divine to fully enter one’s being. This can be in the form of total possession by the spiritual entity being contacted, but is can also be manifested by the practitioner hearing the voice(s) of the divine host calling to their mind. Whatever the manner of individual communion, the path of the Horse is not only one of the most common scriptural forms of spiritual connection, but also one that is heavily practiced in some circles today.

Within Jewish tradition, the principal examples of followers of the horse are plentiful. Stories of military leaders, prophets, and kings having “the spirit of God” come upon them appear throughout the text. Sometimes this spirit comes in the form of words, sometimes courage, and yet other times through the gifts of tremendous power. Perhaps the most well known story of this last kind of horsing is found in Judges 13-16. This is the story of Samson.

As is often the case in the path of the horse, there are conditions to Samson’s power. For each individual, depending on the contract maintained with their spirit or deity, these conditions will be widely varied. As a nazirite, the requirement for Samson is that he never cut his hair. In return for keeping this condition, Samson is blessed with phenomenal strength. When his hair is cut (16:17-21), Samson’s power is lost to him until his final moments.

There are seven instances where Samson displays this tremendous strength, three of which there is the description that “the spirit of the Lord gripped him” (14:6,14:19, 15:14). In these passages, being possessed with the spirit of God, Samson tears apart a lion with his bare hands, slaughters thirty of the men of Ashkelon, and kills one thousand of the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.

While it is clear that in the other cases listed, Samson’s power comes from his connection with God, the final act is without a doubt the greatest example of divine channeling. Having been shaven, blinded, and imprisoned, Samson is called to entertain the people in the temple of the Philistines. There he calls out, “O Lord God! Please remember me, and give me strength just this once, O God, to take revenge of the Philistines, if only for one of my eyes.” He then places his hands on the pillars supporting the building, and, crying out “Let me die with the Philistines!” Samson pulls with all of his might, bringing the temple down around him (16:25-30).

For many Christians, the path of the horse is not something limited to heroes of the past. It is the holly spirit in the midst, the personal lord and savior, the core of their faith. Through being in the holly spirit, Christians perform acts of healing, speaking in tongues, prophecy, and exorcisms. Within some tribal forms of Christianity in Africa and South America, the devout will enter trance states where they are moved, by the power of Christ, to dance, wail, and enter into seizure-like convulsions.

 Within the scope of American Christianity, the most group that most often practices the path of the horse is the Pentecostal movement. This form of practice, focusing on the gift of the holy spirit in the form of speaking in tongues, began it’s growth in Los Angeles. early in the twentieth century. The movement took off in 1906, under the ministrations of William J. Seymour, who, along with others within his congregation, was blessed with the gift of glossolalia. Even though their congregation had mostly died out by 1920, the Pentecostal movement continued in strength, as it still does today.

Examples of the path of the horse with in Islam are highly limited. However, the case where this path is illuminated is the fundamental core of Islam. This is the revelation of the Quran to the prophet Muhammad. When Muhammad first began to speak prophesy, he believed with fear that he had been possessed by a jinn (malicious spirit/genie). After realizing the divine source of his recitation, Muhammad devotedly walked the path of the horse, serving as the medium through which the will of Allah became manifest in the form of the Quran. Without this revelation, Islam could not exist.

Within the context of BDSM, the path of the horse more closely resemble pagan practices. This is because, due to the separation that most people put between kink and faith based on the sex v. sacred argument, the spiritual powers of Abrahamic religious practices are not objects of focus. The kink practitioner, through their practice, can become in touch with their guardian angels, and various aspects of the divine. The follower of the path of the horse is also ale to become better acquainted to the spark of the divine present in themselves. This in turn leads to easier connection with exterior spiritual powers.


To reduce excess in one’s life, by a culturally prescribed manner, in order to become more connected to the divine.  To completely focus one’s mind, body, and spirit on relationship with God. To walk a road of discipline, rigor, and service. This is the path of the ascetic. Founded on the dualistic belief that the body is essentially wicked, and the soul is pure, ascetics work to discipline the body and temper their appetites in order to purify the soul.
The ascetic weaves many tools into their practice, striving to bring the divine presence into each moment of their life. At the same time, they work to reduce the amount of mundane influences, clearing their minds to be better able to perceive the Truth. Sometimes, the ascetic needs to endure intense physical pain in order to assist in shifting their consciousness from the physical to the divine (ordeals). This can be in the form of punishment, or for meditative purposes. While this infliction can be spontaneous, it can also take the form of highly scripted, time/place specific scenarios (ritual). For some people this practiced transcendence of the self, leads to, or in some way involves receiving knowledge, and/or being a vessel for the divine spirit (horsing). Regardless of the tools used, the ascetic makes use of them to completely reshape themselves in devotion to the divine.

As noted earlier, the nature of the laws within Judaism is to create a ritually structured life. Whereas Christianity is rich with history regarding monastic traditions, these phenomenon are almost completely absent from Judaism. This is because Judaism is essentially non-dualistic tradition. Within a Judaic context, one cannot truly know the soul without also knowing the body. It is true that one must control their physical desires, lest they take complete control. This does not mean that we should completely suppress our earthly motivations. Rather one should learn to experience them fully, as a part of our divine nature, while remaining within the boundaries of the law.

Operating within the framework of Judaism, which is in itself a kind of monasticism, there are stories of some zaddikim (righteous people) who stand out from the rest as true exemplars of living righteously in devotion to the law and God. What one must remember though, is that while their piety separated the zaddikim from the community on a spiritual level (they were even said to be above the ministering angels), they nonetheless were active parts of their community (Encyclopedia Judaica p. 910-911). It is, after all, only possible to be a genuinely righteous person, in the Judaic world view, if one is immersed in their people.

Out of the Abrahamic faiths, traditions of asceticism are most prolific within the history of Christian tradition. Beginning in reaction to the nationalization of Christianity by the Roman Empire, monastics set themselves apart from the rest of their community. They felt that, by forming communities completely devoted to the worship and service of God, they could be better in touch with the divine than their counterparts that operate in secular circles.

In the same spirit, the solitary ascetic, or hermit, took their separation from society to the point of even abandoning religious community. One of these ascetics who, one could say, stood above the rest, was Simeon the Stylite. A devout Christian at an early age, Simeon entered the monastery at the age if 16. He was soon however asked to leave, due to his practices of extreme physical self-mortification. After his dismissal from the monastery, Simeon shut himself away in a small hut for a year and a half. During this time he successfully fasted without food or drink for the entirety of lent. After leaving his hut, Simeon sought to live out his days in a small cave. However, due to the constant flow of visitors seeking his wisdom and blessing, Simeon was unable to find solitude in this manner.  It was at his point that he decided that, rather than finding escape horizontally, he would instead attempt to separate himself vertically.

Simeon found a pillar, said to be about four meters high, within the ruins near his cave. He built a small platform atop it (aprx. One square meter), and determined to live out the rest of his life atop this pillar. Over the course of the next 37 years, higher pillars continued to be built for Simeon, the tallest being about 15 meters high. So pious was Simeon, that he would not let any women approach his perch, not even his own mother. Food and letters of correspondence would be brought up by rope, and, despite his extreme physical isolation, Simeon would respond to these entreaties with advice of temperance and moderation.

While, like Judaism, the Islamic faith is designed to create a ascetically oriented lifestyle, there is still a thriving ascetic tradition present within Islam. As Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf points out in Asceticism in Islam, practice in Islam has two sides, the Shariah (divine law, exoteric practice), and Tariqa (spiritual, esoteric practice). The focus of Tariqa, spiritual union with the divine (ma'iyyah), became known as Sufism within a western context (Abdul Rauf p.591).

There are three dimensions of relationship that are simultaneously present in ma’iyyah. In the first dimension, the individual maintains proper adherence of sacred law (adah ash-Shar'), happily making every aspect of their physical life an extension of God’s will. At the second dimension, the practitioner is in accordance with the spiritual practice if Islam (adah at-Tariqah). This means that they have separated their ego from their actions. All things come from Allah and are due to His power. The third dimension of ma’iyyah is understanding the truth of reality (adah al-Haqiqah). Here, “you recognize what belongs to you and what belongs to Him, for the reality is that to you belong poverty, weakness, incapacity, ignorance and abject humility, while to Him belong affluence, strength, power, wisdom and glory. To you belong non-existence, to Him all-Being; you are contingent reality, a zero, and Allah is Absolute Reality and Being, therefore Infinity” (Rauf p.599-601). It is important to note that that these dimensions are not stages to be progressed through, but rather independent aspects of the relationship with the Divine. Each must be nurtured equally, and simultaneously in order for one to be complete.

Asceticism (zuhud) serves to help in maturation of these dimensions by, through disciplining the body, drawing attention to the spirit and it’s relationship to Allah (. The practice of zuhud can take many paths. Abstinence, isolation, frugality, and minimalization of material wealth, fasting; all of these are valid forms of asceticism within Islamic practice (Abdul Rauf p.591) All of this is to distance one’s consciousness from the self, for, as Shaykh Wali Raslan stated: “Creatures are a screen and therefore, since you are a creature, you are a screen. But the Lord of Truth is not one to be screened; He is concealed from you because of you. So detach from you, and you shall witness Him” (Rauf p.601).

In terms of BDSM and its relation to Abrahamic religions, asceticism is the path of the Lifestyle practitioner. For this person, BDSM is not simply a tool to achieve physical or spiritual ecstasy. It is the guiding factor of every day life. In each action, the practitioner is conscious of their role as submissive to some higher power. This is true to both dominant and submissive individuals. The dominant recognizes that they have the care and safety of the submissive in their hands. They must also stand as an example, and constant guiding force of right behavior, leading their submissive into more powerful levels of self-discovery. In reciprocal, the submissive takes the role of the ascetic initiate, limiting their behavior to that which their master designates as best for them. This will, of course, differ from case to case.

When viewed in a religious context, difficulties here can arise for one crucial reason. While taking the role of dominant and master, one can easily loose focus on their service to God as the highest power. The submissive individual must also be careful, so as to not worship their master in the place of the divine. One can view their dominant as the embodiment of divine qualities, and as a teacher to instruct and control one’s behavior so as to be a better service to God. A submissive can view their service of their master to be service of God through them, but the service of a human for their own sake removes this from a proper Abrahamic context, while still retaining the similarities in appearance.

The primary purpose of asceticism within both the leather community, and the faiths of focus, is the separation of self from non-observant society, for the purpose of leading a life of intense devotion. In the religious context, this means leading a life strictly devoted to following the will of the dive, and paying it homage in a setting that allows no distraction. Within lifestyle BDSM, rather than direct devotion to the divine , the focal point of attention is on the D/s relationship, and the various responsibilities that the roles established create. In this form, one can still operate within an Abrahamic context, so long as the actions of both dominant and submissive, while retaining the focus on the mortal relationship, also relate their actions to the overall service of the divine.


To undergo intense trials in order to purify the body and spirit, to engage in actions that reaffirm and deepen the bonds of a relationship, to open oneself as a vessel for the divine consciousness, to devote one’s entire life to the service of something greater than the self; these are things that anyone who either practices one of the Abrahamic faiths, or BDSM would describe as the locus of their actions. The reasons that people tend to separate these realms in their consciousness is that, within the modern view, kink is sexual in its focus, while religion is sacred. That which is sacred, however, is most clearly defined not only by culture, but also by feeling. It is the sense of transcendence, of being both separate from, and yet one with all that is. It is the peace of familiarity with the divine through self-awareness, and vice versa. The ways, times, and places that this sense of the sacred may manifest are varied for each individual. It is our ability to accept the sacred that is limited and defined by culture.

In this sense, BDSM can be viewed as a non-deistic faith in and of itself. This is because, through BDSM, people manifest the sacred (transcendent, and non-profane) within themselves and their lives It can also, however, be conceived of as a distinct, though underemphasized element of the Abrahamic faiths. By understanding the fundamental components of the kink experience, as they are expressed in these faiths, one can become more deeply connected in relationship both with the divine, and in turn their immediate community.

While there are without a doubt, elements within the leather community that are in conflict with the Abrahamic traditions, it is important to remember that, just like with religion, no one in the leather community will practice all things. However, at the core of the relationship between humans and the divine, as well as the actions used to maintain this relationship, there are many links between traditional religious practice, and the modern world of BDSM. It is these elements of connection, rather than the dissimilarities that one must focus on in order to properly understand the relationship between BDSM and the faiths of Abraham.

Key Terms
(Adapted from Sacred Kink Appendix 1)

Altered States of Consciousness: A state of consciousness or awareness that differs significantly from the baseline or normal consciousness; an experience of losing connection with our own body or perceptions, losing sense of self identity.

BDSM: Commonly accepted acronym for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism
Bondage: Anything that restricts options; Imposed physical or psychological restraint.

Catharsis: A form of purging or bearing witness to emotions or memories by bringing them into conscious awareness and experiencing them in some way.

Discipline: The instruction given to a disciple or follower of a system of rules and conduct; To instruct a person to follow a code of conduct or order. Often associated with punishment, as a form of negative reinforcement, though positive reinforcement may be used as well.

Dominance: The behaviors and signals of authority or superiority.

Dominant: The willful partner in a dynamic, the person whose ideas and desires are being followed.

Dungeon: A space removed from the rest of society for the purpose of creating a focused zone of interaction.

Faith: The belief or trust in a person, idea, thing, or outcome.
Horse: A human vessel (see vessel).

Horsing: The process of providing (giving or sharing) an individuals energy to be directed by a higher power, spirit, deity, archetype, or concept.

Journeyer: The person experiencing an energetic journey, engaging in an altered state of consciousness, or questing on a sacred path.

Kink: Another term for the overall realm of BDSM

Kinkster: An individual who engages in kink activities of some sort.

Masochism: Pleasure or arousal drawn from consensual experiencing of pain or extreme sensation.

Path: A route or approach to altered states of consciousness.

Profane: Those things that are, in essence, removed from the sacred (see sacred).

Punishment: Providing an unpleasant or negative stimulus, usually as a response to poor behavior, disobedience, or going against the desired system of conduct.

Religion: An organized approach to spirituality that involves specific beliefs, practices, symbols, and stories that can provide meaning to someone’s experiences of life, divinity, and ultimate truth.

Sacred: Things we find holy, full of energy, spirit, passion, and/or universal truths; the things our higher self knows to be valid, true, and viable. Something that is removed from the profane.

Sadism: Non clinical stimulation or arousal felt by the infliction, or observation of extreme sensation (pain).

Scene: A kink/BDSM/alternative (sexual) encounter that has a specified beginning, middle, and end. In some cases, a scene can be defined in advance, or in retrospect.

Slave: The serving, possessed, or dedicated partner in a dynamic; an individual whose identity or role is intertwined with service, surrender, or submission.

Submission: The behaviors and signals of compliance or humility.

Submissive: The submitting or yielding partner in a dynamic, the person who follows the ideas and desires of another individual.

Tools: The props, costumes, or other items used in sacred activities.

Top: The giving Partner in a dynamic, the person doing or applying the sensations, actions, or activities.

Vessel: An individual, animal, object, or location that has the capacity to be used for horsing.

Works Cited

Baumeister, Roy F. "Masochism as Escape from Self." Journal of Sex Research 25.1 (1988): 28.
Baumeister was used to give an idea of identity in relation to physical sensation and cognitive capacity. Using his model of higher and lower consciousness, I was able to give light to the nature of transcendent experience through physical stimulation.

Cloud, John. "Bondage Unbound." Time 163.3 (2004): 104-109.
This article gave historical background on the origin of the terms sadism and masochism.

Rauf, Imam Feisal Abdul. "Asceticism in Islam." Cross Currents 57.4 (2008): 591-602.
Rauf was used to elaborate on Islamic concepts of Asceticism

Eliade, Mircea. “The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion.” Harvest Books (1957)
Eliade was used to create a relation between the sacred and the profane, s viewed within religious and kink perspectives.

Encyclopedia Judaica. Keter Publishing House (1971): 910-911
The Encyclopedia Judaica was used to discuss the Zaddikim in relation to asceticism.

Glucklich, Ariel. “Sacred Pain: Hurting the Body for the Sake of the Soul.” Oxford University Press (2001)
Glucklich was used to establish a ground in which the experience of physical pain can be used as a tool to attain transcendent states.

Harrington, Lee. “Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Path of BDSM and Beyond.” Lulu Enterprises (2009)
Harrington was used as a primary model for the relationship between BDSM and the Abrahamic faiths

Mohammad, Noor. “The Doctrine of Jihad: An Introduction.” Journal of Law and Religion 3.2 (1985): 381-397
Mohammad was used to elaborate on the idea of jihad as a part of the path of the ordeal within Islam.

Otto, Rudolph. “The Idea of Holy.” (1917)
Otto was used to establish that the transcendent, or holy experience is something that, being personally defined, is felt rather than learned.

King James Bible. Thomas Nelson Books (1982)
The King James Bible was used to give quotations regarding the crucifixion of Jesus, as interpreted through the path of the ordeal.


Religious school teacher charged with molestation
By Joel Magainick
Voice of Jewish Washington (JTNews) - November 28, 2012

Though he has been charged with molestation, police may never apprehend a former Hebrew school teacher who has likely fled to Central America. Lydia Katz was charged with two counts of third-degree child molestation by the King County Prosecutor’s Office on Nov. 15 following Katz’s alleged contact with a 14-year-old girl whom he taught at the Temple De Hirsch Sinai Religion School.

According to the charges, “the defendant used his position of trust as a religious instructor to gain access to his young victim, to exploit his position of authority and to secure the trust of her family.”

The prosecutor’s office believes Katz left Seattle after the victim’s parent notified the synagogue and may now be in Guatemala. Katz was employed for a year as an 8th-grade teacher and worked with the 6th-grade class at Temple De Hirsch Sinai and, according to the charging papers, another synagogue that was not identified. 

TDHS fired Katz after the victim’s mother forwarded messages she had discovered from Katz in her daughter’s email account that appeared to confirm a relationship. 

Daniel Weiner, Temple De Hirsch Sinai’s senior rabbi, told JTNews that the temple could not comment on anything that may “impede or jeopardize or cause any obstruction in the investigation” of Katz, and that “our chief concern is for the student and the family as well as for all our temple students and families.”

Weiner did note, however, that “we do assiduous, law-enforcement–based background checks of all employees of the synagogue.” Katz’s background check did not raise any red flags.

In addition to teaching, Katz led some children’s programs at Camp Kesher, an annual Labor Day-weekend family camp sponsored by all of the area’s Reform synagogues.
Ken Kranseler, Kesher’s co-director, told JTNews that because the camp is largely volunteer run, “we rely heavily on the local synagogues…for support and recommendations” of its program staff.

The camp and congregational rabbis notified families who had attended this year’s Kesher program about the charges against Katz, and noted he was not under investigation for inappropriate behavior at the camp.

While the charging papers stated that police had no further evidence of relationships with other students, they did note that “there is information that Katz spoke to several 14-year-olds about sexual subjects.”


Former Humboldt State Student Running From Child Molestation Charges
Lost Coast Outpost - January 9, 2013

A reader writes:

Bits and pieces of this story have been filtering through the humboldt kink community for months. Really surprised none of the local papers have picked it up yet since he lived in Eureka for some time and there may be local kids affected that the authorities don’t know about yet.
The reader points us to The Awareness Center, a publication of the International Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assualt, which exhaustively gathers information on Lydia Katz, who graduated from Humboldt State’s religious studies program in the summer of 2011. Katz — who has written for several websites exploring the boundaries of modern sexuality — is currently wanted by the Seattle Police Department for allegedly molesting a 14-year-old girl who attended a synagogue he was teaching at.

News reports from Seattle indicate that police believe Katz has fled to Guatemala.

In Nov. 2009, National Public Radio interviewed Katz outside Arcata’s Humboldt Patient Resource Center, where he was buying marijuana.

Lydia Katz came to Arcata restock his supply of medicinal marijuana. Katz says he first began "self-medicating" with his parents' blessing at the age of 13.


Ex-Seattle synagogue teacher charged with molesting student arrested
Fox News - Seattle - January 10, 2013

GUATEMALA — A 25-year-old former Seattle synagogue teacher charged with molesting a 14-year-old student was arrested in Guatemala, the Pacific Northwest Fugitive Task Force announced.
Lydia Katz surrendered Thursday morning to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, officials said, after a tip from Crimestoppers led to his whereabouts  He will be extradited to Washington.

Police said Katz worked at two Jewish temples and at a Camp Kesher weekend Jewish family event on Vashon Island this past Labor Day weekend. The temples where he worked were not disclosed.

Police said that Katz, in his online postings, never talked about his alleged 14-year-old victim, but they added that the victim’s mother found romantic emails between the two, one where Katz allegedly wrote, “I’m drunk on your kisses.”

Police allege the victim told investigators that she and Katz had repeated sexual contact from early August until mid-September at a park near his north Seattle home.

Katz was fired after the victim’s mother reportedly forwarded the Katz emails to the rabbi of the temple where Katz worked.

The co-director of Camp Kesher said he is aware of the allegations against Katz and called it a regrettable situation.


'Polyamorous' teacher jailed for alleged relationship with teen student 
KIROTV - January 25, 2013

SEATTLE —A teacher suspected of molesting a 14-year-old student suddenly disappeared last fall when criminal charges were filed.

Now, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News has learned that 25-year-old Lydia Katz was booked into the downtown Seattle jail just after 9 p.m. Thursday night.

In YouTube videos posted by a man identified as Katz, the former Jewish religion teacher and camp counselor describes his alternative love life.

"I'm not a monogamous person," Katz said in the video, "I'm a polyamorous person. I'm a person who loves openly and expansively."

According to charging documents, a 14-year-old girl's mother found emails between her and Katz.

Katz admitted to the woman that "he was in love" with her daughter, and "begged" her not to notify anyone.

"My career, my freedom," Katz reportedly told the mother, "these things you can destroy with one simple call."

Soon after, a police investigation revealed alleged sexual contact that often took place at a park near Katz's home.

Katz was charged with child molestation and was fired. He then fled the state and his whereabouts were unknown to police.

Katz's next-door neighbors confirmed to KIRO 7 Eyewitness Reporter Amy Clancy that Katz left his north Seattle home suddenly last fall.

At the time, he said that he was planning to move to California. He told his neighbors about the allegations and maintained his innocence.

However, his neighbors thought that it was strange that Katz seemed to have many visitors who were young teens.

Katz is being held behind bars on $150,000 bail. His next court appearance will be next week.

Katz posted YouTube videos about his alternative love life
A teacher suspected of molesting a 14-year old student suddenly disappeared when charges were filed. 


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