Tracy Moore, Jewish lesbian activist and author, was born Tracy Miller in 1943 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her dad, Ransom Gurden Miller, was concerned about being conscripted during World War II, so enlisted in the Navy as a navigator. Her mom, Janie Williams Miller, took Tracy to live with the grandparents in Shaker Heights, Ohio while Gurden was in military training. In 1945, while he was on a fleet headed to Japan, the war ended. That same year, her sister, Wendy Miller, was born. After leaving service, Gurden got a job as a salesperson in New York City, so the family moved to Connecticut where Tracy lived until 5th grade. He was transferred to a new sales territory about every four years, so the family moved regularly.
Tracy enjoyed learning and thrived in school. She earned her B.A. degree in English at Denison University in Ohio (1965). With Ed Brunner she moved to Iowa City for grad school, where they were married. Tracy earned her M.A. degree in English (1969) and taught high school English from 1970-1977.
Iowa City had a strong feminist-lesbian community at the time. This was a transformative time for Tracy as she came to her lesbian identity, separated from Ed, and added her grandmother's surname, Moore, to her own. She entered a relationship with Joan Pinkvoss which lasted several years including a year together in Austria.
Iowa City had a thriving feminist-lesbian community where Tracy immersed herself. She spent three years as part of a collective that published the bimonthly newspaper Ain’t I a Woman? which was circulated from 1970-73 throughout the USA. In 1981 she co-founded Common Lives/Lesbian Lives, a quarterly journal centered on lesbian lives and experiences--modeled after Sinister Wisdom--that ran until 1996. Tracy developed a radical consciousness as an activist both in women’s liberation and by working in a collective. Two of her lovers died, Anne Lee in 1981 and Linda Knox in 1982.
In 1987, she fell in love with Lisa Edwards, and they began a relationship. Lisa was pondering her vocation and decided to prepare to become a rabbi. They moved to Israel in 1988 where Lisa started rabbinical studies and Tracy took courses at Hebrew University. The Palestinian intifada made it a tumultuous time in Israel. Tracy and Lisa became active with Women in Black, the women’s movement protesting against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Tracy was also looking for ways to connect with lesbians in Israel. Using contacts she found in the American publication Lesbian Connection, Tracy began meeting and talking with Israeli lesbians, who were very politically involved. Sensing their interest in developing a lesbian political consciousness, she decided to record interviews. She trained in oral history and spent the 1988-89 year traveling around Israel recording interviews with 27 Israeli lesbians. When she left Israel to return to the U.S., she had 73 hours of interviews.
Tracy earned an M.B.A. degree at the University of California (1990) while Lisa continued her rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College-Institute of Religion. During this time Tracy began carefully transcribing all of the interviews, seeking assistance from volunteer transcribers by advertising in lesbian publications. When they moved to New York City in the summer of 1992 so Lisa could complete her rabbinic studies, Tracy took leave from work to develop a manuscript based on her interviews. The result was the publication by Cassell of Lesbiot: Israeli Lesbians Talk About Sexuality, Feminism, Judaism, and Their Lives in 1995. Lesbiot was the first publication about lesbian life in Israel and explored these themes: family history; personal biography; lesbian sensibility and experience; Jewishness, Judaism, and Israel; and feminism and political issues.
Tracy and Lisa returned to southern California in 1994 when Lisa was chosen to be rabbi of Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC), the world’s first LGBTQ synagogue, founded in 1972. During the following years, Moore worked as a development officer raising major gifts for nonprofit organizations, including Lambda Legal Defense Fund and Southern California Public Radio. She also was active at BCC and assisted with financial management there. Moore believes that her Jewish and lesbian identities are related to each other; that her Judaism is “an act of love” above all else. She served on the board at the ONE Archives Foundation for sixteen years before stepping down in 2019. She was a member of the founding board of directors of the LGBTQ Religious Archives Network in 2019-20.
Both Moore and Edwards are retired and living in Los Angeles, still active in their local communities.
(This biographical statement was written by Mark Bowman from an interview with Tracy Moore conducted by Ve’Amber Miller and edited by Moore.)
Biography Date: July 2022
Jewish Women’s Archives interviewed Tracy in 2020, on the 25th anniversary of the publication of Lesbiot. https://jwa.org/blog/lesbiot-turns-25-interview-tracy-moore
Jewish (ethnic, Reform, Reconstructionist, Orthodox) | Author/editor | Feminism | Los Angeles | California | Women and Religion | Edwards, Lisa | Israel
“Tracy Moore | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed November 30, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/tracy-moore.