“Great is human dignity, since it overrides a negative precept of the Torah.” (Sanhedrin 19b)
In 1990, the Rabbinical Assembly passed a resolution entitled “Gay and Lesbian Jews,” which called us to:
- Work for full and equal civil rights for gays and lesbians in our national life
- Deplore violence against gays and lesbians
- Encourage inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews in our congregations, and
- Increase our awareness of issues facing gay and lesbian Jews.
Since that time, we have learned much more about the nature of sexual identity, ways to create more inclusive communities, the necessity to combat discrimination and the harmful effect of bullying. In a 2002 national survey found that more than three quarters of teens (78%) report that children and adolescents who are gay or are thought to be gay are teased or bullied and studies have shown that GLBT teens are 1.5-7 times more likely to attempt suicide. (see note below)
In 2006, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement accepted three teshuvot on gays and lesbians in the rabbinate that reflect the wide spectrum of views in the Conservative Movement on the halakhic issues related to sexual identity. Despite our halakhic differences, we stand united in our opposition to discrimination against anyone based on sexual identity and in our commitment to make our synagogues and our community more welcoming and safe places for all.
Whereas gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Jews are an integral part of our families, our synagogues and, our communities and gay and lesbian rabbis now serve openly in our Movement;
Whereas GLBT couples still face legal discrimination in areas such as civil recognition of their relationships, health care and social security; and
Whereas GLBT Jews face discrimination and are victims of hate crimes in the broader community, based both on religion and sexual orientation.
Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly reaffirm its 1990 resolution and extend its call for full and equal civil rights to bisexual and transgender persons;
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly support the extension of civil rights and privileges granted to married persons to same sex couples;
Be it further resolved that we call on Rabbinical Assembly members to work with their communities to develop an action plan to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for GLBT individuals. Such plans may include, but not be limited to, the use of inclusive language in our marketing materials, membership forms, etc;
Be it further resolved that we call on Rabbinical Assembly members, within their understanding of the halakhic issues as the mara d’atra, to find appropriate ways to include GLBT individuals and their families in lifecycle events;
Be it further resolved that Rabbinical Assembly members should actively work to create safe spaces within the Jewish community for teens and adults to discuss issues related to sexual identity;
Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly shall join together in coalition with appropriate religious and secular organizations and encourage congregations to become involved in local and national anti-bullying campaigns; and
Be it further resolved that the leadership of the Rabbinical Assembly shall develop resource materials for its members to support their work in this area and help make members aware of appropriate resources developed by other organizations.
Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, March, 2011
source: Suicide Prevention Resource Center. (2008). Suicide risk and prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Newton, MA: Education Development Center, Inc.