Transgender activist Abby Stein will be in West Orange

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Scene from the documentary movie
Scene from the documentary movie "Family in Transition"

Family in Transition film is about transitioning and keeping your family together

Abby Stein is arguably the ideal choice to lead a post-screening discussion of the New Jersey Jewish Film Festival’s offering on Sunday, April 7 at 2pm. Family in Transition is an Israeli documentary about a father of four struggling to keep his family together as he transitions into a woman. And Stein is the first openly transgender woman raised in a Hasidic community.

Transgender activist Abby Stein
Transgender activist Abby Stein

Stein began her transition from male to female at the age of 23, in 2013. She came out on her blog and established a public presence, eager, she said, “to let other transgender Hasidim know they are not alone. I wanted to be a voice. If someone would have told me then that there were other people like me, it just would have been so helpful.”

Stein is busy as an educator and activist for transgender issues. She maintains a Facebook group and established a support group for others like her. Stein has been interviewed by all forms of media across the globe, including the United States, Israel, France, and Russia. Her blog is called “The Second Transition.” It is named the second, because the first was leaving her Hasidic home and community in Brooklyn. Stein left with support from Footsteps, an organization that helps ultra-Orthodox Jews integrate into mainstream society. She is also working on a memoir.

Stein was selected as one of 2016’s “36 Under 36” — the New York Jewish Week’s annual profiling of up-and-coming innovative community leaders. She is involved in Jewish life through Romemu, a New York congregation that is part of the Jewish Renewal movement. “I tried for a while to disengage myself from Judaism altogether,” she said. “But it’s really hard to take 20 years of your life and forget about it.” In fact, Stein has joked that she’s the first, and only, ultra-Orthodox ordained female rabbi, having received smicha in 2011 at Yeshiva Viznitz, before her transition.

In her public appearances, Stein welcomes her audiences’ receptivity to new ideas. “Most American Jews are… the most progressive and welcoming people I’ve ever met,” she said. She strives to encourage them to put aside preconceptions — not only about transgender individuals, but about the chasidic community, many of whose traditions she still treasures.

“Everyone has their own story and their own pain,” says Abby Stein

Family in Transition” the 2018 winner of the Best Israeli Documentary at Tel Aviv’s DocAviv International Film Festival, will be shown Sunday, April 7, at 2 pm at JCC MetroWest, Levin Theatre, 760 Northfield Avenue in West Orange, NJ 07052. It is a  part of the New Jersey Jewish Film Festival

The 2018 Israeli documentary is about a father of four in Nahariya who reveals to his wife and children that he’s about to transition into a woman. The family struggles to adjust. But just when it seems they have achieved some normalcy, their lives are turned upside down.

For more information or to purchase tickets to Family in Transition visit  jccmetrowest.org/event/family-in-transition/