Rabbi Frankie (arm visible on the right wearing tefillin) at a bottoms for Palestine protest
Jewdas is keen to support independent Jewish media on the left. That’s why we’re reprinting this article from New Untamed Jewish Voices’s weekly column From the Margins of the Fringes, where they interview those speaking out for Palestine who have been marginalised within the Jewish community. This week we meet Rabbi Frankie Tuchusenblatt, a passionate bottoms rights activist and advocate for Palestinians.
Q: Hi Rabbi Frankie, thank you for speaking with NUJV. Can you tell me about your journey to your bottom identity and how you got involved in bottoms rights activism? What do you want non-bottoms to know about the fight for bottoms rights?
A: I’ve been a bottom for as long as I remember, but I’ve only been politically active around it for about five years. I think the final straw for me was seeing meme after meme on Tumblr infantalising bottoms and perpetuating harmful stereotypes about us, for example that we can only communicate by keyboard smashing, that we can’t drive, that we’re needy. That made me think about all the other oppression bottoms face: the lack of tops in society, the pressure on us to switch, the slut shaming. Since then, I’ve been a passionate activist for bottoms rights, and for raising awareness about the struggles we face.
We need more people, and especially tops, to be allies to bottoms. A lot of tops think that if they’re having sex with us, that’s enough. But to be a true ally, they need to make sure they’re having really good sex with us. That’s real allyship.
A Bottomphobic Meme
Q: Did being such a passionate bottom conflict with your decision to become a rabbi?
A: Not at all- in fact, I’d say it’s the opposite. After all, what is being a Jew except being a bottom to G-d? They’re pretty into leather as well.
Oh yeah baby, you like that?
Q: What do your fellow rabbis think of bottom rights activism?
A: I’m the first rabbi to be out publicly as a bottom, so I’ve definitely been breaking a lot of glass ceilings in the Jewish world. I do know there are more rabbis out there who are also bottoms, but they don’t want to be public about it at the moment.
Some rabbis have been a little negative, for example saying it’s “something congregants probably don’t really need to know” and “I’m not sure if it was really necessary to give that sermon about how the High Priest preparing to enter Kodesh HaKodashim is comparable to bottoms douching in anticipation of getting topped”. Most however are positive and support me and my lifestyle.
Bottoms uplifting fellow bottoms
Q: How do you connect your proud bottom identity to your politics?
A: As I started reading more about the Palestinian community and how oppressed they are, I couldn’t help but connect it to my own experiences as a bottom. Palestinians and bottoms both suffer prejudice, discrimination and a lack of access to resources. The key difference however is that whilst I can safeword out of my restraints, Palestinians stay shackled in Israeli prison cells. I knew I had to speak up, not only as a Jew but also as a bottom.
Palestinians don’t have a safe word
Q: How do you respond to the charges by the pro-Israel side of the Jewish community that only bottoms are pro-Palestine?
A: This is a very common misunderstanding, but the plight of Palestinians is an issue for everyone in our community. That’s why I launched my new group: “Jewish Bottoms and Tops Say Apartheid Must Stop”. Everyone is welcome to come along to our meetings, including tops. Especially tops. Please, please come if you’re a top.
Q: Your article published on Novara Media “Why I support BDS as a bottom” received some criticism from Palestinians in the UK who called it “irrelevant”, “bizarre”, and “frankly your own mess”. How do you respond to them?
A: That was a very personal essay for me, and it was sad to see not everyone responded in a positive way. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the public humiliation of a good Twitter ratio.
I’ll never look at Chabad the same way again.