Welcoming LGBT people – Say it loud & proud

Rabbi Larry Milder
Rabbi Larry Milder

I’ve been pleased and impressed by Rabbi Larry Milder‘s clear statements about acceptance within his synagogue, Beth Emek of Pleasanton. Here’s another good one that he sent to his congregation.

Are You Gay? Lesbian? Transgender? We Welcome You!

I am heterosexual. I expect my synagogue to be accepting of my gender identity. I was born this way.

And if I were gay, or transgender, or gender non-conforming, I would have exactly the same expectation of my synagogue.

The truth is, gender may not be as clear as many of us think it is. I know I first started thinking about the permeability of gender identity reading novels by Hermann Hesse.

Getting out of the simple dichotomies with which I grew up, however, is challenging. Judaism is filled with customs associated with traditional gender roles.

Even worse, a lot of prejudice about gender identity permeates the vocabulary of Jewish life.

We can do better than that.

That is why I am proud of the Reform movement’s public advocacy of the value of full inclusion in our synagogues and institutions for Jews regardless of gender identity. That ethical commitment extends to the public sphere, as well, continuing a legacy of advocacy for the civil rights of gay, lesbian, transgender and gender non-conforming people.

This past year, the Union for Reform Judaism adopted a resolution to that effect, saying that the URJ:
1. Affirms its commitment to the full equality, inclusion and acceptance of people of all gender identities and gender expressions;
2. Affirms the right of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals to be referred to by their name, gender, and pronoun of preference in our congregations, camps, schools, and other Reform affiliated organizations.
The resolution continues with additional commitments. You can read the entire text here:
Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People

The Reform movement’s seminary, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, admits transgender rabbinical students. NFTY and the URJ summer camps have become places that are safe and inclusive of transgender participants.

I am certain that thoughtful congregants will find ways that we can be more inclusive as a synagogue, too. What must be said, though, is that LGBTQ Jews are welcome here.