Judaism and LGBTQ Issues: An Overview

Posted on February 27th, 2017
By Ben Harris for

Jewish attitudes about non-heterosexual identities have shifted dramatically in recent decades, with sharp differences between the Orthodox and liberal movements.

As social attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people have undergone a sea change in North America, Western Europe and Israel, official Jewish views, among the liberal denominations at least, have changed along with them.

Although as recently as 1990, the Reform movement’s rabbinic leaders officially considered heterosexual relationships “the ideal human relationship for the perpetuation of species, covenantal fulfillment, and the preservation of the Jewish people,” by the mid-1990s, the movement had fully endorsed same-sex marriage — two decades before it became legal across the United States. A decade later, the Conservative movement reversed its longstanding ban on gay sexual activity and reversed its policy of not ordaining gay and lesbian rabbis. In 2012, the movement endorsed gay marriage.

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Talking to My Daughter About Her Friend’s Transgender Parent

Posted on February 20th, 2017
Sharrona Pearl for Kveller 

Will she go by Ms. Lynne or Mrs. Lynne?

That was my oldest daughter’s first question when I told her that her friend’s parent was transitioning from a man to a woman, and transitioning from being called Max to being called Lynne. Ms. or Mrs. She wanted to get the naming right. And the pronouns weren’t the confusing part.

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Raise Game: Jewish and LGBTQ Heroes

Posted on February 13th, 2017
By Jay Stanton for

“Raise game.” When I began rabbinical school, a friend of mine who was already ordained offered me these two words of wisdom when I asked for advice about how to handle the instantaneous increased authority that comes even from studying to be a rabbi. The point is clear: when more is expected, more must be delivered. Grow into the shoes you’re being given.

A rabbi is our quintessential token Jew. Unlike other forms of tokenization, this one is voluntary. Those of us who pursue a rabbinic path do so by choice. We’re signing up to be tokenized and scrutinized. We volunteer to be knowledgeable representatives of our religious culture. The title “Rabbi” is a giant “ask me” button.

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The Secret Life of the Gay Jewish Immigrant Whose Company Sells Your Medical Information

Posted on February 6th, 2017
Adam Tanner for The Forward

We may think that what happens in our doctor’s office is confidential, but, in reality, our medical secrets fuel a multi-billion-dollar trade in patient information.

The leading firm in this opaque data trade is QuintilesIMS, a company founded as IMS in 1954 by an enigmatic German immigrant named Ludwig Wolfgang Frohlich. Today, the company that Frohlich founded is a titan in its field, worth nearly $20 billion.

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Meet the Lesbian Jewish Mom & Rabbi Who’s Leading a Congregation in Rural Maine

Posted on January 30th, 2017
Courtney Naliboff for Kveller

Not every small, rural Jewish congregation is lucky enough to have a rabbi. Temple Beth Israel, in Waterville, Maine—also home to Colby College—is lucky to have not just any rabbi, but Rav Rachel Isaacs, a community organizer, academic, mother, and deliverer of the White House Hanukkah celebration benediction in 2016. She’s also the executive director of the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, which fosters collaboration between small synagogues and colleges to provide Jewish programming and strengthen the Jewish community. I talked with her about being gay and Jewish in a small town, the differences between New Jersey and Maine, and the menschiness of President Obama.

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