In the early 1970s, while I was CEO of the Seagram Company, public dialogue about gay rights was largely nonexistent in corporate America. Social discourse had not yet even evolved into the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ethos that dominated the following decades. Homosexuality was simply not discussed and therefore, by implication, was shameful.
Our state of California has become a laboratory. The progressive party, the Democrats, holds every statewide office, from governor on down, and they hold super-majorities in both houses of the state legislature.
Last year, I officiated at the first same-sex wedding in the 145-year history of my synagogue. For a Conservative congregation, this was quite a break with tradition.
The American Modern Orthodox community has just entered uncharted territory. Last week, our largest rabbinic organization, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) formally withdrew its support of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality).
When Rabbi Steve Greenberg was a young rabbinical student at an Orthodox Yeshiva near Jerusalem in the mid-1970s, he was attracted to a fellow (male) student. He wanted to talk about his feelings of homosexual desire to a respected old rabbi — but was afraid to. So Greenberg fudged by telling the rabbi he was “attracted to both men and women.” The venerated old rabbi shrugged: “So you have twice the power of love. Use it carefully.”
A new survey of Jewish communal organizations found that 50 percent of them have taken significant steps to welcome gays and lesbians and their families.
A Conservative Jewish day school will not renew its Boy Scouts charter because of the organization's policy excluding gay and lesbian adults as leaders.
Israel’s association for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is launching a center in Tel Aviv to combat anti-gay violence.
On Friday night, June 8 JewishJournal.com will be airing a live stream of Beth Chayim Chadishim's Shabbat services.
Both members of a lesbian couple who had a child together can be recognized as the child's mother, an Israeli court ruled.
Someday, maybe every gay Jewish youth will have as easy a time coming out as Elias Rubin did.
A lesbian couple was reprimanded by a guard for holding hands and asked to leave an exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
All eyes will still be on New York in the coming weeks as the state prepares for marriage equality. I learned a lot in the run-up to wedding mania here in California in 2008, so I thought I would share some tips with those in New York.
Drivers at a red light looked on with curiosity as hundreds of congregants and supporters of Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC) poured out of the doors of a synagogue, forming a parade on the sidewalk of Pico Boulevard. Their destination: BCC’s new location, at 6090 W. Pico Blvd.
A gay community center in New York is facing controversy again for renting meeting space to an anti-Israel group. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center announced Wednesday that it would allow Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to rent meeting space in its building. The center said it “provides space for a variety of LGBT voices in our community to engage in conversations on a range of topics.”
A national initiative is underway to examine gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workplace policies at Jewish non-profit organizations. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which advocates for LGBT equality, announced this week an extension of its workplace equality project in the Jewish non-profit sector. Organizations will be examined for their workplace policies regarding LGBT employees, and areas that need education will be highlighted.
On Sunday night, March 1, JewishJournal.com will broadcast LIVE from the American Jewish University. Tune in at 7:10 p.m. to watch a panel discussion from the “Welcoming Synagogues Project: Strategic Convening.” Moderated by Dr. Caryn Aviv of Jewish Mosaic and University of Denver, the panel will discuss gender/sexual diversity and inclusion in the Jewish community, emphasizing success stories, challenges, and lessons learned.
"People choose to remain gay, and people choose to remain Jewish," said an organizer. "Why should the majority of us be forced to honor that choice?"
A Reform rabbi (No on 8) and an Orthodox rabbi (Yes on 8) offer their opinions on the controversial ballot measure
Proposition 8 is California ballot initiative that legally restricts marriage to only a relationship between a man and a woman, depriving gays and lesbians a state mandated constitutional civil right. In opposing this ballot-measure, I know I am optimistically standing on firm religious ground.
Early in "A Jihad for Love," a new documentary directed by Parvez Sharma and produced by Sandi Simcha Dubowski, we meet Mazen, a 20-something Egyptian man who has fled Cairo for Paris to avoid the three-year prison sentence authorities want to impose on him because he is gay.
Maybe gay marriage is just what the world needs to make weddings sane.
". . . Watching the first legal gay marriage in Los Angeles . . . between two Jewish women, with their rabbi and their Jewish lawyer, fills me with extraordinary pride as a Jew . . ."
As dozens of gay couples celebrated legal weddings at San Francisco City Hall, Jews representing numerous organizations set up a chupah, volunteers passed out plates of marble cake frosted with the phrase "Mazel Tov" and invited couples to partake in rituals.
For some, it is a spiritual moment of human dignity finally resting upon everyone. For others, it is a sign that society is being sucked into an eddy of moral dissolution.
While civil ceremonies abound up and down the California coast, those seeking a Jewish ceremony -- complete with ketubah (the Jewish marriage contract) -- have a few extra stops to make on the road to matrimony.
Amid a crush of photographers, a handful of largely drowned-out protesters, and hundreds of supporters tossing rose petals, Diane Olson and Robin Tyler stood under a chuppah on the Beverly Hills Courthouse steps on Monday evening to become one of the first lesbian couples to legally marry in California.
In a sign of continuing friction among Conservative Jews over the issue of homosexuality, a ceremony in Jerusalem to mark the first anniversary of the decision to admit gays to the Jewish Theological Seminary was held away from the campus of the movement's main educational institution there.
"The Bubble" is one of two Israel-centered features scheduled for the 25th Outfest, Los Angeles' gay and lesbian film festival, July 12-23. The film is being shown in collaboration with Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation, as well as JQ International.
Last week, the Conservative movement paved the way for ordination of gay rabbis and the performance of commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples. But the decisions that came out of the two-day meeting of the Rabbinical Assembly's Law Committee -- the advisory body for the movement -- were much more nuanced than headlines suggested.
Spiritual decision-making is also frequently a factor in the calculus of gay life. In fact, finding a religious tradition that affirms gay experience and offers the support of a vibrant community can be one of the most important aspects of self-realization for gay men and lesbians -- especially for people who see being in a committed relationship as a natural extension of their spiritual lives.
Tonight is a Yiddish service, Zol Zahn Shabbes -- literally, we should have Shabbat -- and it's happening at Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC), founded in 1972 as the world's first synagogue for lesbian and gay Jews.
7 Days in the Arts
The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) announced this month that Eisen, 54, the chair of Stanford University's religious studies program, would become just the second nonrabbi to serve as the New York City seminary's chancellor and the first since 1940. He succeeds Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, who held the post for two decades.
7 Days in the Arts
Amid a flurry of legal activity and political posturing, the topic of gay marriage has moved with lightning speed from being an obscure issue reserved for advocates and their seasoned respondents to the forefront of political, emotional and intellectual debate.
"Like peeling an onion," Rabbi Steven Greenberg said, about the process of coming out.
Joan Nestle is one of many Jewish lesbian writers with work catalogued at ONE, an archive similar to New York's Lesbian Herstory Archive, which Nestle co-founded in 1973.
French-Canadian director Léa Pool calls her latest movie a teenage-lesbian version of "Romeo and Juliet."
The next chapter in the struggle for normality in Judaism on the part of gay men and lesbians will take place within Conservative Judaism over admission to rabbinical school.
For some prospective rabbis, the greatest challenge is getting into rabbinical school. For Benay Lappe, the challenge was getting out, coming out and being out.