Progressively Speaking: Should we welcome the Chief Rabbi’s LGBTQI+ guide?
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Progressively Speaking: Should we welcome the Chief Rabbi’s LGBTQI+ guide?

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein reflects on a topical issue with a progressive Jewish response

As the chair of the Liberal Conference of Rabbis and Cantors, I am delighted to welcome this new guide on behalf of my colleagues and our movement.

Many members of Liberal Jewish families attend Orthodox schools, while more still are proud members of both the Jewish and LGBTQI+ communities.

This new guide should help to reduce prejudice and potential harm in schools, as well as across the whole of the Jewish community.

I am particularly pleased that Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has written the guide in partnership with KeshetUK, an outstanding education charity that works to ensure Jewish LGBTQI+ people and their families are included throughout Jewish life in the UK.

It’s also positive to note that a training programme for Orthodox rabbis, teachers and educators will now follow so that all students can reach their full potential, free from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, discrimination and fear.

The year of 5778 was certainly one of progress in which longstanding principles and practices of Liberal Judaism have been adopted across the spectrum.

A year in which we witnessed the smicha (ordination) of Dina Brawer as the UK’s first female Orthodox rabbi has now concluded with this compassionate acknowledgment of the need to safeguard all our children regardless of sexuality or gender.

Liberal Judaism is proud to be at the cutting edge of Judaism, responding to contemporary issues such as these.

And I am proud that this creates the conversation for others to follow in time.

Indeed, for me, this is exactly the advantage of having different denominations within Judaism.

They complement each other. Some lead in a sometimes radical and sometimes progressive way; some follow in time; and there are those whose critique helps to concretise the more universal moral.

For example, the senior Israeli Charedi rabbi who accused the guide of “drawing sinners into our camp” just displays a lack of understanding of sexuality that ultimately has caused incredible heartache, mental health issues, family separations and suicide.

That is why we applaud Rabbi Mirvis for his recognition of LGBTQI+ issues. Yasher Koach to the Chief Rabbi.

Rabbi Aaron Goldstein is chair of the Liberal Conference of Rabbis and Cantors and senior rabbi at Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue

 

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