Jewish and Gay
“While there are no simple equations
between Jewish and queer identities, Jewishness and
queerness yet utilize and are bound up with one another
in particularly resonant ways. This crossover also
extends to the modern discourses of antisemitism and
homophobia, with stereotypes of the Jew frequently
underwriting pop cultural and scientific notions of the
homosexual. And vice versa.”
- Daniel Boyarin, Daniel Itzkovitz, & Ann
Pellegrini / Queer Theory & the Jewish Question
"The God I worship endorses
loving, committed, monogamous relationships, regardless
of the gender of those involved."
gay is okay, so long as the behavior
is not obsessive, responsible and safe, non-abusive, and
the manifestation of a loving, respectful relationship."
"First of all, I do not know what
God thinks. In my opinion, homosexuality is not a sin,
but an alternate lifestyle. In my opinion, homosexuality
by itself is not immoral. When sex is used to corrupt,
for prurient and/or exploitative purposes or selfish
reasons or to hurt someone else, this is immoral."
JQY: Jewish Queer Youth
Jewish LGBTQ Organizations
BBC: Israeli Knesset Member Resigns Amid Gay Wedding
Sojourn: Southern Jewish LGBTQ Resource Network
Wikipedia: LGBTQ Rights in Israel
Wider Bridge: LGBTQ Equality in Israel
Israeli Knesset Member Forced Out for Attending Gay
What Does Judaism Say About LGBTQ People?
Within Judaism, there are many shades of
LGBTQ acceptance and rejection.
Rabbi Denise Eger, the rabbi of the West
Hollywood Reform synagogue Congregation Kol Ami, is one
of the first openly gay or lesbian rabbis. She was
ordained in 1988, and came out publicly the same year.
In 1990 Reform Judaism began ordaining openly gay and
Eger says that Judaism has evolved on the
issue of LGBTQ inclusion, particularly with the Reform
movement’s long record of support for LGBTQ rights.
“There’s such a rapid change of pace,”
says Eger, who became the first openly LGBTQ president
of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which has
endorsed marriage equality since 1996. She says liberal
Jews want “to welcome all people and to speak out for
human rights and LGBTQ rights.”
The primary branches of Judaism vary in
their views on LGBTQ people:
Reform Judaism - Reform rabbis can
officiate at ceremonies recognizing same-sex
relationships, and most will perform same-sex weddings.
The most liberal branch of Judaism, Reform is also the
largest one in North America, Eger says. About 80
percent of Jewish people on the continent are either
Reform or Conservative.
Conservative Judaism - Whereas Reform
Judaism is broadly affirming, Conservative Judaism is
“still in transition,” Eger says. Gay and lesbian rabbis
can be ordained in Conservative Judaism, she says. Some
Conservative rabbis will officiate at same-sex weddings,
others will not.
Orthodox Judaism - Orthodox Judaism, the
smallest branch of Judaism in North America, includes
synagogues that reflect different degrees of acceptance.
Most Orthodox rabbis oppose marriage quality and would
not officiate at a same-sex wedding or affirm same-sex
relationships, Eger says. In fact, some would reject
LGBTQ members or even endorse discredited “reparative
therapy.” However, some Orthodox synagogues would
welcome LGBTQ people to be part of the community.
Theological Questions - From a
theological standpoint, Jewish people face some of the
same questions as Christians when it comes to scriptural
interpretations. There’s the “man who lies with a man”
verse in Leviticus. There’s a part of Noah’s story in
which one of his son’s “saw his father’s nakedness,”
which could be a euphemism for incest or molestation.
For Eger’s part, she has criticized the
“very literal fashion” in which religious texts are
often viewed. “Bring your critical, insightful mind to
whatever text you’re reading,” Eger said during a recent
panel of pro-LGBTQ religious leaders. “Do not check your
mind at the door.”
Nehirim is an LGBTQ Jewish organization.
Like Eger, Nehirim officials note that things have
changed markedly for LGBTQ people in Judaism.
“Twenty-five years ago fewer than a dozen Jewish clergy
publicly identified as LGBTQ. Today 200 rabbis, cantors,
rabbinic pastors and clergy students in every
denomination lead congregations, teach at universities,
lead and teach at seminaries, run Jewish organizations,
manage chaplaincy departments at hospitals and more,”
Nehirim’s executive director, Rabbi Debra Kolodny, said.
“We are thrilled that so many will clergy are willing to
have meaningful dialogue about theology, leadership, and
how we can help heal the wounds created by religion
around sexuality in the Jewish world.”
[Source: Advocate, Stevie St. John,
Jewish Views on Homosexuality
LGBTQ Affirming Jewish Groups
JTA: Israeli Government Opposes Adoption by Same Sex
HRC: Conservative Judaism and LGBTQ Issues
Jewishable: Jewish LGBTQ Network
Welcoming Synagogues: Queering Jewish Religious Spaces
Times of Israel: Gay Pride in Tel Aviv
LGBTQ Rights in Israel
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and
queer (LGBTQ) rights in Israel are the most advanced in
the Middle East and one of the most advanced in Asia.
Same-sex sexual activity was legalized in 1988, although
the former law against sodomy had not been enforced
since a court decision of 1963. Israel became the first
in Asia to recognize unregistered cohabitation between
same-sex couples, making it the first country in Asia to
recognize any same-sex union. Although same-sex
marriages are not performed in the country, Israel
recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation was
prohibited in 1992. Same-sex couples are allowed to
jointly adopt after a court decision in 2008, while
previously allowing stepchild adoptions and limited
co-guardianship rights for non-biological parents. LGBTQ
people are also allowed to serve openly in the military.
Tel Aviv has frequently been referred to
by publishers as one of the most gay friendly cities in
the world, famous for its annual Pride Parade and gay
beach, earning it the nickname "the gay capital of the
Middle East" by Out magazine. According to LGBTQ
travelers, it was ranked as the best gay city in 2011,
despite reports of some LGBTQ violence during the 2000s,
which were criticized by Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. A monument
dedicated to the gay victims of the Holocaust was
erected in Tel Aviv in 2014.
World Congress of LGBTQ Jews
YouTube: Lesbian Jewish Wedding Story
Tourist Israel: Gay Tel Aviv for Beginners
IGY: Israeli Gay Youth
Times of Israel: 79% of Israelis Back Gay Marriage
Wikipedia: Homosexuality and Judaism
Denise Eger is an American Reform rabbi. In March 2015
she became president of the Central Conference of
American Rabbis, the largest and oldest rabbinical
organization in North America. She is the first
openly gay person to hold that position.
studying to become a rabbi during the 1980s in New York
City, Denise Eger started a group for gay and lesbian
students, holding meetings far from campus. At the time,
there were few prospects for out lesbian rabbis, a
lesson Eger would learn personally. No one would hire
her. But she found her calling at a synagogue created as
a religious refuge for gays, Beth Chayim Chadashim in
Los Angeles, the world’s first gay and lesbian synagogue
to be recognized by Reform Judaism. It was a road that
led her to found Kol Ami, a welcoming and jubilant
Jewish community that is open to all.
Since then, the Reform Jewish movement (Eger’s lifelong
spiritual home) has undergone a radical transformation
on LGBTQ issues and now fully embraces the community.
been honored for her HIV/AIDS work and is a highly
regarded expert on Judaism and LGBTQ civil rights. She
is a noted author contributing to anthologies such as
“Torah Queeries,” “Lesbian Rabbis,” “Twice Blessed,” and
“Conflicting Visions: Contemporary Debates in Reform
Judaism.” She wrote the piece “Creating Opportunities
for the ‘Other’: The Ordination of Women as a Turning
Point for LGBTQ Jews”, which appears in the book “The
Sacred Calling: Four Decades of Women in the Rabbinate,”
published in 2016.
Wikipedia: Denise Eger
Queery: Lesbian Rabbi Denise Eger
NY Times: Lesbian Rabbi Becomes President of Reform
Institute for Judaism
and Sexual Orientation
How Can You
be Gay and Jewish?
Rabbi's View: Gay Marriage Does Not Violate Religious
What Does Judaism Say About LGBTQ People?
Famous LGBTQ Jews
Harvey Milk / Politician
Barney Frank / Politician
Allan Bloom / Philosopher
Ludwig Wittgenstein / Philosopher
Magnus Hirschfeld / Sexologist
Arlene Istar Lev / Social Worker,
Sandra Bernhard / Actor, Comedian
Harvey Feinstein / Actor, Playwright
Victor Garber / Actor
Annie Leibovitz / Photographer
Moises Kaufman / Playwright
Leonard Bernstein / Composer, Conductor
Aaron Copland / Composer
Dave Koz / Jazz Saxophonist
Barry Manilow / Singer, Songwriter
Janis Ian / Singer, Songwriter
Adam Lambert / Singer
Allen Ginsberg / Poet
Tony Kushner / Playwright
Marcel Proust / Novelist
Gertrude Stein / Writer
Susan Sontag / Novelist
Maurice Sendak / Writer
Shapiro / Radio Newscaster
│ LGBTQ Information Network │ Established 2017 │