NEW YORK – A strange friend of mine, from a Haredi orthodox formation, made a public consultation on social media. She attended a conference on LGBT inclusion. There she learned the practice of certain Catholic priests who described entering gay bars in full clerical dress: they sat in the bar and, when queer Catholics approached, priests affirmed God's love and their place of belonging in the church.
My friend asked her community of observant Jews, recognizing that the rabbis do not have any identifiable clerical attire: when the Orthodox rabbis could do the same?
As an orthodox rabbi, I was intrigued. I discovered a rainbow kippa online and decided to buy it.
It got attention the first day I used it. A woman took a picture of me and nodded. A homeless man on the subway who was begging for money approached, pointing to my kippaand said, "Now I like it," and I slapped my fist. A man in high heels came up to me before leaving his stop and said, "Thanks for the yarmulke." I even made my way to the Chabad Lubavitch headquarters the same day for a meeting and a Hasid asked me where he was. could find a kippa like mine. I assumed: O kippa job.
But what is symbolizing and enough?
O kippa is a symbol of my commitment to God, to the Torah and to the Jewish people. For me, the rainbow kippa it is also a symbol that God and Judaism love you no matter what your sexual orientation.
I understand that Leviticus clear reading considers homosexual sextoevahOften translated as an abomination. I understand that the views of Jewish law kiddushin, the ritual marriage ceremony, as a legal framework between a man and a woman. I know and respect that.
But I also believe that the Torah does not want human beings to live alone, and supports an alliance relationship between the parties while building a faithful Jewish home. I know that Judaism, for thousands of years, has had a rich understanding of the diversity of gender identities. I know that the Torah affirms the dignity of God of all human beings.
In the recent film "Boy, offBased on the memories of Garrard Conley describing his experience in a gay conversion program, a scene between a Baptist pastor father and his adult gay son stayed with me. Conley's character says something like "I tried to change, God knows I tried, I can not change, now it's your turn."
I thought about how that particular sentence resonated. The burden of responsibility now rests upon those of us in positions of religious leadership: to continue to make space, to validate, to humanize, to empathize and to support those who have long felt repressed by our traditions, not by the impaired parties themselves.
My own rabbinic school, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, which is a beacon of progressive traditionalism, has recently informed its students and alumni that one of their fourth year students, an openly homosexual man, will not be receiving ordination a few months before graduation. study at the seminary. It is a painful reminder that LGBTQ Jews still do not have the ability to fully participate as equals in all facets of orthodox life.
That is why, in the future, I will be holding wedding ceremonies for queer Jews.
I am passionately committed to God, the Jewish law, the Torah and the Jewish people. These will not be "kiddushinCeremonies, but similar to brit shutafin (alliance partnership) ceremonies the visionary rabbi Steven Greenberg, founder of Eshel, has been performing for years.
I understand that for some this may seem like a blatant break with tradition, and I know that some of my teachers and the larger Orthodox community believe that this is crossing a line that should not be passed.
However, I know there are a small but growing number of orthodox rabbis from the whole spectrum of the Modern Orthodox Church who believe that it is at this point that we have to move. I hope that by doing this as a community, queer Jews see themselves as valued in the community and see that their rabbis are ready to celebrate their life choices from the covenant's sacred covenant as well. It is not only a matter of defending the dignity of the human being, but of preserving the dignity of the Torah itself, which emphasizes the need for a loving partnership.
A wedding day should be a joyous day for loving companions, such as liturgical connotations, regardless of their sexual orientation. If the couple is deciding to live a Jewish life, build a Jewish home and raise Jewish children, our traditional rabbinate should take the opportunity to receive and work with these families at their most precious moments in the life cycle. If we do not, we run the risk of further alienation and falling into an abyss of religious irrelevance, denying these couples their proper place of belonging.
Should not our Orthodox communities have the opportunity to keep so many Jews engaged in their Judaism? This is the Torah and this is your reward?
We are too late for a new paradigm. I am humbled to be part of a new generation that seeks to maintain the sacred tradition we inherit, as well as humanity before us.
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