LGBTQIA

LGBTQIA

Already this month, we have celebrated inclusion in its many forms: making congregations accessible to those with disabilities, highlighting women's stories in the Torah and Talmud, breaking the Jewish glass ceiling for women, and of course, celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month. Women of Reform Judaism was ahead of its time and the entire Reform Movement in 1965, when it publicly supported the decriminalization of homosexuality. Since then, WRJ has not stopped speaking up for LGBTQ people and their rights as citizens and as Jews - and the entire Reform Jewish Movement has now joined in.

As a young, queer Jew growing up in a Reform synagogue, I didn't know that these resolutions were being made - that the women in our temple sisterhood were a part of a larger movement to support LGBTQ rights. But I never worried about acceptance in my community. Our small post-confirmation class with the rabbi frequently discussed Reform & Conservative Judaism's support of same-sex marriage. Our adult youth group advisors were a lesbian couple who were married by our rabbi. I knew that if and when I came out, it would be okay.

We all know that the Reform Movement supports LGBTQ Jews, but how can congregations, sisterhoods, and brotherhoods put this audacious hospitality into practice? Here are some ideas:

June is here, and in honor of LGBT Pride Month, we're sharing suggestions for welcoming LGBTQ members into your congregation and community. Do you have ideas to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!

  1. Celebrate Gay Pride Month (June) with a special Shabbat service. Invite LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer) members to participate and include readings that speak to the experience of being both Jewish and LGBTQ. Consider having a guest speaker deliver a sermon or have a panel of congregants at the oneg to discuss how LGBTQ issues affect their congregational and personal lives.
  1. Phrase your congregational publicity in a way that is inviting to all people. In your congregational advertising, make sure that the LGBTQ population is specifically welcomed at all congregational events.
  1. Review your temple website to make sure that it is welcoming to LGBTQ Jews. Rather than using terms such as “alternative lifestyles” or “non-traditional families,” use language such as, “We proudly welcome members of the LGBTQ community,” or “We welcome LGBTQ Jews and their families.”

Membership specialists and committee chairs will tell you the three tenets of congregational membership are recruitment, integration/engagement, and retention.