Jewish Trans Man Dies Mysteriously

‘Trailblazing’ trans man Jonah Berele dies mysteriously, but his legacy of kindness, generosity and love lives on
Jonah Berele

Jonah Berele

In a life entrenched with religious tradition, Jonah Berele was a trailblazer.

When he was born in 1988 it was as Sarah, Miriam and Allan Berele’s first-born baby.

But growing up a devout Jew in West Ridge, particularly within the conservative Orthodox community, it wasn’t easy for Jonah to come out as a transgender teen.

“At first, I think it was a little bit of an adventure, something she was excited about,” said father Allan Berele, a math professor at DePaul. “I once said to her, ‘I don’t understand what you mean when you say you’re a guy.’ She said, ‘I don’t understand it, either.’ ”

“I hated that she did it, but I have to admit that after she did it, it made her a much happier person. It was very important to her. There’s absolutely no question.”

On Sunday Sept. 25 Jonah died in Lake Michigan at the age of 27, but friends and family say his legacy isn’t over.

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