A different kind of wig in shul: How drag performers are finding community in Jewish spaces

Sam Brown performed as Vanta Blaque for the Calgary Jewish community's first drag brunch in Sept. 2022. (Photo courtesy of Calgary Jewish Federation/Facebook)

The idea of inhabiting and playing with an identity you usually don’t exhibit isn’t new to Judaism, with many aspects of Jewish identity being more fluid than labels can contain. Jews can easily put on masks to pass in mainstream society, becoming less Jewish if we choose. But there are always spaces to maintain our identity, from synagogues to schools—places where we allow all aspects of our identity breathe.

It’s not that different from how a queer person code-switches from the wider world to a drag brunch or gay bar—all of which are worlds very familiar to Sam Brown, a non-binary drag queen and performer, who’s also a member of the queer and Jewish communities in Calgary. As details of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs continue to emerge, in which an attacker killed five people at a popular LGBT bar, this week’s episode of Bonjour Chai features an interview David Sklar conducted with Brown during Pride Week in the summer.

After that, hosts David and Ilana break down the biggest news stories that have been on their minds, including how misinformation spreads on social media, the role of Birthright trips and the future of Jewish philanthropy.


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold, Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.