A History of LGBTQ Inclusion in the Institutional Jewish World
Rabbi Debra Kolodny
Lionel Blue, ordained as a rabbi in 1960, was the first British rabbi to publicly declare himself a homosexual, in 1980.
The Jewish Renewal movement emerged in 1960’s, never having a policy against ordaining LGBTQ people. It didn’t ordain its first LGBTQ clergy until 2006, however.
1984: Reconstructionist Rabbinical College changed policy to ordain LGBTQ rabbis.
Late 1980s: the primary seminary of the Reform movement, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, changed its admission requirements to allow openly lesbian and gay people to join the student body.
1990: The Union for Reform Judaism announced a national policy declaring lesbian and gay Jews to be full and equal members of the religious community.
1993: Susan Saxe becomes the Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal and the first openly lesbian or gay executive of a national Jewish organizational headquarters.
2004: Out bisexual activist Debra Kolodny became Executive Director of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.
2004: Nehirim, a LGBTQ Jewish retreat and advocacy organization, was founded.
Elliot Kukla, who came out as transgender six months before his ordination in 2006, was the first openly transgender person to be ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
2006: Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for Conservative Judaism adopted a majority opinion allowing the ordination of LGBT clergy, the blessing of same-sex unions, and lifting prohibitions on most (but not all) same-sex conduct (specifically not same-sex anal sex). The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies started admitting openly-LGBT students.
2009: Juval Porat, who is openly gay, graduated from Abraham Geiger College and thus became the first person to be trained as a cantor in Germany since the Holocaust. In 2010 he became the cantor for Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim, a Los Angeles Reform synagogue.
May 2010: Anna Maranta was the first lesbian rabbi privately ordained in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
June 2010: Eshel, an LGBTQ Orthodox Jewish organization, was founded.
Emily Aviva Kapor, who had been ordained privately by a Conservadox rabbi in 2005, began living as a woman in 2012, thus becoming the first openly transgender female rabbi.
2014: Mikie Goldstein became the first openly gay man ordained as a Conservative Jewish rabbi.
2014: Kol B’mishpachat Elohim: All in God’s Family: A Jewish Guide for Creating Allies for Our LGBT Families was published by Keshet, NGLTF, COLAGE, Family Equality Council.
2014: Nehirim‘s retreat for LGBT rabbis, rabbinic pastors, cantors, and students was held in San Francisco.
Orthodox Judaism, at 21%, does not ordain openly LGBT Jews.