FRIDAY, August 17th
Some weeks ago, I joined with several dozen other Orthodox rabbis in the US and in Israel to sign a letter denouncing recent instances of dangerous and hateful speech used against some of the most vulnerable members of the Jewish community–LGBT Jews. Because of the very real danger that derogatory and hateful speech poses to the life and well-being of LGBT people, the Torah commandment of “lo taamod al dam reiekha (do not stand idly by your fellow’s blood),” compelled my colleagues and me to speak out.
In the wake of that letter, while I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from many members of this community, I have also been made the target of abuse and insults from a few individuals, who responded to our call for treating all human beings with respect by doing exactly the opposite.
I relate this experience not to garner sympathy for myself; on the contrary—it is a sign of how privileged I am that I have not been subject to that kind of insulting language before. I imagine that for many people, especially in the LGBT community, that kind of abuse is a regular experience. Thus, a few people’s hostile reactions to my joining the call to treat LGBT folks with dignity and respect served to confirm for me how necessary that statement was.
In light of this, I invite you to join me in recommitting to making our community one that welcomes and embraces all Jews, regardless of their level of observance or Jewish education, regardless of their political or religious affiliation, and regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. As the only Modern Orthodox synagogue in the region, we have a tremendous opportunity to help Jews of all backgrounds grow in Torah and mitzvot. We are best able to do that when all Jews are able to feel welcome and accepted in our community.
Therefore, I propose to organize a series of learning events focused on openness and inclusivity. If you are interested in taking a leadership role in that initiative and helping to shape what it will look like, please reach out to me at email@example.com.