Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A Feast of Firsts for Passover

We’re coming to the end of the Jewish festival of Passover right now, so today we look at lgbt Jewish culture. Perhaps more than any other faith Judaism has become a form of secular cultural identity. Many Jews don’t think of themselves as having any belief at all but embrace their Jewish ancestry and heritage with pride.

As with other faiths there is a multitude of different denominations within Judaism with different doctrinal attitudes to the lgbt community. These differences range for the Orthodox Jewish opinion based on the much-quoted and even greater misinterpreted scriptural verse, as it is with extreme Christian groups, from Leviticus. The verse was translated into English many centuries ago as “do not lie with a man as you would with a woman, since this is an abomination”. Many extreme believers and atheists alike have misinterpreted, often deliberately to justify their bigotry, the word “abomination” which doesn’t even appear in the original scriptural texts.

While the debate about ordaining lgbt clergy is still going on in many faiths Judaism in one of the first to appoint openly lgbt clergy of all genders. Needless to say, it is in the newer, more liberal denominations that this has occurred. The traditional Orthodox Jewish denomination does not ordain openly lgbt rabbis though some have come out after ordination.
Among the first achieved by lgbt rabbis are the following, arranged by denomination.

1999    (USA) Rabbi Steven Greenberg comes out, the person most often referred to as the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi.
2009    (Israel) Rabbi Ron Josef comes out, the first openly lgbt Orthodox rabbi in Israel.
2011    (USA) Rachel Isaacs, the first open lgbt woman to be ordained a Conservative rabbi.
2014    (USA) Mikie Goldstein, the first openly lgbt man to be ordained a Conservative rabbi.

1981    (UK) Rabbi Lionel Blue comes out, the first openly lgbt Reform rabbi.
1984    (UK) Sheila Shulman and Elizabeth Tilvah Sarah, both openly lgbt, ordained as Reform rabbis.
2006    (USA) Elliot Kukla, the first transgendered rabbi of Reform Judaism.
2014    (USA) Rabbi Denise Eger, the first openly lgbt President of a Reform conference.

1985    (USA) Deborah Brin, the first openly lgbt to be ordained a Restructionist rabbi.
2007    (USA) Rabbi Toba Spitzer, the first openly lgbt President of a rabbinical association.
2013    (USA) Rabbi Jason Klein, the openly lgbt male President of a rabbinical association.
2005    (USA) Eli Cohen, the first openly lgbt man to be ordained a Renewal rabbi.
2006    (USA) Chaya Eisfield and Lori Klien, the first openly lgbt to be ordained Renewal rabbis.
1963    (USA) Sherwin Wine, and openly lgbt rabbi, founds the Humanist Jewish denomination.
1998    (USA) Malka T. Drucker, the first open lgbt rabbi ordained by a cross-denomination seminary.
2012    (USA) Emily Aviva Kapo, the first transgender rabbi ordained by “Conservadox” Judaism.
As a prelude to an article I’ll publish next month, there is also a Jewish humanist movement. It was founded in 1963 by Rabbi Sherwin Wine (1928-2007) and is the only major Jewish denomination founded by an openly gay man. Humanist Judaism is not specifically an lgbt denomination but is the most lgbt-friendly of all of them. Although a non-religious organisation it still uses the title of rabbi for its leaders and teachers.
There are many other lgbt Jewish religious and secular organisations and a list of them can be found on the JQ International website here.

1 comment:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7uV9O4AXDA ( My Video on why Passover matters to us all ) - I think that LGBT people should be included in Passover celebrations. We are all people. and all deserve to find meaning in life. Thank you for giving us the break down of some important events that have happened in the faith.