LGBTQ+ Reform Rabbis: We See You. We Celebrate You. We Are Here for You.

June 2023

Dear Colleagues,

We are almost at the end of Pride Month, with many of us having celebrated in our communities, camps, and congregations. This year, though, the joy of Pride is dampened by renewed oppression of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly of transgender and nonbinary folks, in states that have adopted oppressive laws that make life increasingly harsh, dangerous, and frightening for the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones. Even in states without these laws, we see hatred being expressed.

We at the CCAR have spoken out against oppressive legislation, most recently in February 2023, when our board adopted and we published the Central Conference of American Rabbis Resolution on Advocating for Transgender People.

This note, though, is not about advocacy. It is about you.

We see you. We celebrate you. We are here for you. We are you.

  • We see our transgender, nonbinary, and queer colleagues fighting for your lives and resisting an onslaught of hostile and dehumanizing legislation (such as criminalizing your use of public restrooms), all as you continue to provide meaningful rabbinic leadership to your communities. We see CCAR rabbis who are frightened for your children’s well-being, even their lives, in the face of unconstitutional laws that seek to make gender affirming care unavailable to minors and empower bigots in authority over children to misgender trans and nonbinary children and address them by names that are no longer their own.
  • We see our colleagues who must consider fleeing your homes, turned into political refugees by state governments that have made your lives untenable in the places where you have lived and found your livelihood.
  • We see CCAR rabbis whose employment opportunities are limited by fear and bigotry. The challenges for transgender and nonbinary rabbis today reflect those of gay and lesbian rabbis in decades past, even as gay and lesbian rabbis also continue to face discrimination.
  • Indeed, we see the intersectional nature of this oppression, which is rooted not only in transphobia and homophobia, but also virulent misogyny, racism, and antisemitism.
  • We celebrate our colleagues who are devoting considerable time and resources to fighting oppressive legislation, potentially putting your livelihoods at risk, particularly in states with the most hateful legislation.
  • We celebrate CCAR colleagues who have overcome tremendous obstacles—self-loathing, rejection by family and friends, hatred, discrimination, and microaggressions in and beyond the workplace—and gone on to provide extraordinary service to the Jewish community and the world.
  • We are here with resources, including Mishkan Ga’avah: Where Pride Dwells, with new rituals and readings in the life cycle manual L’chol Zman v’Eit, with implicit bias training materials for search committees and boards, and with resolutions of support.
  • We are here with supportive services—a listening ear, counseling sessions, support groups, and more—which may be accessed by contacting Betsy Torop,
  • We are here sharing stories of the LGBTQ+ Rabbinic Groundbreakers on social media and RavBlog so we can learn from the experiences of these pioneering rabbis.

We are here to be in conversation about what more we can be doing during these turbulent and scary times. Above all, we are you. Just as each of us is created b’tzelem Elohim, each of us is ordained equally—gay or straight, cisgender, transgender, or nonbinary—exactly as we are. When one of us is assaulted, all of us are harmed, even as we acknowledge that none of us can truly know the pain of another.

In the spirit of our tradition we affirm: Kol rabbanim v’rabot areivim zeh/zot/eleh b’zeh/zot/eleh.

Yours in Pride,

Rabbi Hara Person and Rabbi Erica Asch