Archive for March, 2009
I was very lucky- and when I first came out, I was a member of a wonderful congregation that made welcoming all people a priority. That communal support has made it possible for me, as a lesbian, to feel supported in my choice to live as an Orthodox Jew. But many queer Orthodox Jews are not as lucky as I was, and do not find themselves supported and welcomed in their congregations. Some are even actively excluded, making it extremely difficult to remain observant of the mitzvot and strong in the beliefs of Orthodox Judaism.
Recently the Welcoming Synagogues Project surveyed Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Secular Humanist and Unaffiliated Synagogues about the degree to which they welcomed queer members. They found that among the Synagogues surveyed ” The majority of rabbis in congregations across denominations think their synagogues are already welcoming of lesbians and gays, but could do better. The majority of Orthodox respondents do not perceive their congregations to be welcoming.”
I do not know whether the Orthodox Rabbis surveyed considered this state of affairs to be a positive one. I hope they understand, that it is an area where there is much work to be done- and that as leaders of Congregations it is the job of Rabbis to create spaces that are conducive to the spiritual and religious development of every Jew- regardless of sexual or gender orientation.
Rabbi Steve Greenberg, in an article in the Forward, suggests that the fact that Orthodox Rabbis responded to the survey at all showed a “willingness to engage the question”. I hope that is the case, and that as a result, Orthoodox shul Rabbis will find themselves delving more deeply into the the Jewish tradition, and coming to a greater understanding of the needs of all of their congregants.