Reform Judaism is to play ‘shidduch’ to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews in a new gender-neutral match-making service.
The initiative, which could lead to a dedicated website, was announced by Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner this weekend.
“We want to help people to meet other Jews, those who are interested in living a Jewish life,” she said. “Both relationships, straight or gay, can have kedusha – holiness.”
Janner-Klausner said rabbis acting as match-makers “is part of a golden tradition, and shouldn’t be regarded as an old-fashioned”. She said: “No one should think of gay people as being any different in that regard.”
She acknowledged that the idea was about helping Jews meet Jews, saying: “At the bottom of it all is the question of numbers.
“Jewish gays live in a niche religious community. They are a minority within a minority. If they want to remain Jewish, it’s even harder for them than other gay people. I believe that the community is more ready for this than ever before.”
In contrast to the United Synagogue, both Reform and Liberal Judaism have sanctioned same-sex marriage, while Masorti rabbis can conduct same-sex shutafut, or partnership ceremonies.
A spokesman for the Movement of Reform Judaism said: “This is primarily about bringing people together, supporting people who come to our rabbis wanting to meet other Jews to build a life together.”
He added: “It isn’t exclusively for LGBT people but for anyone regardless of gender or sexuality. Rabbis often meet with people in this situation and a service like this would seek to coordinate requests for help more than is the case now.”
Members of the Assembly of Rabbis are to discuss how to best implement Janner-Klausner’s initiative across Reform’s 42 communities upon her return from sabbatical in June. It is as yet unclear whether all shuls will participate.