Rabbis Respond: June 2019

Each month, we’re asking rabbis across the Twin Cities a different question (via the Minnesota Rabbinic Association). Here’s the question for June; the answers are as written by the rabbi:

In this Pride month, how is your synagogue inclusive of LGBTQ+ Jews?

Beth Jacob Congregation

On June 28, we are sponsoring a Kiddush in honor of Pride and our GLBTQ+ members. We also participated in the J-Pride booth at Minnesota Pride.

Our GLBTQ+ members are fully part of our communal life. We are all engaged in an inclusive community at all times, including, but not limited to June.

Rabbi David Steinberg/Temple Israel of Duluth

Actually, in Duluth, we celebrate Twin Ports Pride during Labor Day weekend in September. But we are always inclusive of LGBTQ+ Jews, including yours truly. I’m openly gay and have been the rabbi here since 2010. When I was hired in 2010, all three finalists for the position were gay. And my predecessor as rabbi, who was here from 1996 to 2010, was openly lesbian. As we proclaim on our website, www.jewishduluth.org, “We value and seek to include everyone who shares our commitment to living and learning about compassionate, ethical Judaism regardless of age, marital status, income level, sexual orientation, gender identity, race or disability.”

Adam Stock Spilker, Rabbi/Mount Zion Temple

From our language of welcome on our website (mzion.org) to all of our services and programs, we practice audacious hospitality and inclusion. For kids, our Sacred Choices sex education program teaches about gender and sexuality in a way that LGBTQ+ is completely integral. For adults, we have an LGBTQ+ inclusion working group that meets quarterly to work on education for our community and to recommend changes in any practices that do not align with our values and vision. We also have some really cool Mount Zion Pride t-shirts!

Rabbi Sharon Stiefel/Mayim Rabim Congregation

Since Mayim Rabim’s founding, LGBTQ+ Jews in the Twin Cities have had a home. Our inclusivity reflects the Reconstructionist movement’s pioneering work. In 1984, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College was the first rabbinical seminary to admit openly lesbian and gay students into its program. Similarly, the Reconstructionist movement was the first to allow rabbinic officiation at same-sex commitment ceremonies. Mayim Rabim, the Twin Cities’ only Reconstructionist congregation, is proud to be inclusive of LGBTQ+ Jews and a welcoming community for all – this month and every month! This month, Mayim Rabim held a Pride-themed Shabbat service, co-sponsored with J-Pride. Mayim Rabim members and guests spoke about the blessings of being Jewish and Queer. One member remarked that he and his partner had been closeted for the first twenty-five years of their relationship. When they joined Mayim Rabim in the early 1990’s, they felt welcomed and had friends for the first time in their history together. They could be recognized for who they were as a gay couple and authentically live their lives. Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President of Reconstructing Judaism (the Reconstructionist movement and Rabbinical College) shares,” The leadership our movement has shown on LGBTQ issues over the years and the risks we have taken, are among our greatest contributions to Judaism and to a multi-faith progressive religious worldview and demonstrate that we are, indeed, deeply rooted and boldly relevant. For me personally, the ability to become a rabbi, to lead a Jewish movement, and to marry — legally or religiously — the woman I love, were all at one point within my lifetime unimaginable. I feel so grateful to have risen to leadership in a movement that has championed all of these and other pathways.”

Rabbi David Locketz, Rabbi Jill Crimmings/Bet Shalom Congregation in Minnetonka

Bet Shalom is a community, as well as a congregation. We are single, married, widowed and divorced. We are LGBTQ, and we are straight. We are single parents, coupled parents, Jews by birth and Jews by choice. We are proud of this diversity and provide a variety of ways for each individual to express their Judaism. Bet Shalom works hard to make sure all not only feel welcome but a sense of belonging. You Belong Here.