The religious world is largely conservative. This is not a value judgement, but an acknowledgment that religion is a place of long duration – it is based on centuries-old traditions.
However, the world evolves rapidly and sometimes a gap opens so wide that religions seem to lose their relevance.
When, as a Liberal rabbi, I offered a prayer to mark the anniversary of the Orlando shooting last year in Parliament at the PinkNews Awards ceremony – alongside a female imam and Church of England bishop – there were complaints on social media.
People from both the Orthodox religious and LGBTQI+ communities wondered whether that was the place for people of faith. The same criticisms were aired when many LGBTQI+ Jews – who were equally proud of both identities – marched in London for Pride. I’d argue these events are exactly our place. Religion can bring an ethical, compassionate and human dimension to tragedies.
It also has something to say about LGBTQI+ people and their right to be acknowledged as created in God’s image and therefore worthy of care and love as every human soul.
Liberal Judaism has always been at the head of the fight for human rights. It was the first movement to create a same-sex wedding liturgy, and think about gender neutral words in our prayer books and Bible translations.
It is not about being fashionable, or following the trends in the larger society. It is about doing what is right.
The recent controversy raised by Rabbi Joseph Dweck’s comments on gay love is proof the issue is not solved, that for segments of the Jewish community being LGBTQI+ is still abhorrent.
These views are contrary to Judaism’s core teachings about the value of human life: every human is unique, and deserves to be treated with dignity.
Dr René Pfertzel is a rabbi at The Liberal Jewish Synagogue