Faith Resources for Jews
“The love of God’s creatures must include all humankind, regardless of religion and race. The narrow mindedness that sees whatever is outside our people as impure and contaminated is one of those terrible blights that destroys any good building.” – Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook
As they have with many other rights struggles throughout history, Jews have contributed mightily to the fight for LGBTQ equality. In recent years, many Jewish congregations have supported same-sex marriage (and welcomed ceremonies into their temples), and in 2015, the Union for Reform Judaism officially adopted a transgender rights policy. Reform Judaism in particular has a long history of being welcoming to people who are LGBTQ.
The organizations below concentrate on institutional and theological change to fully integrate Judaism and the full spectrum of sexual and gender expression.
Eshel: Eshel’s mission is to create community and acceptance for LGBTQ Jews and their families in Orthodox communities. Founded in June of 2010, Eshel trains its members to speak out and act as advocates for LGBT Orthodox people and their families, creates bridges into Orthodox communities to foster understanding and support, and through community gatherings helps LGBT Orthodox people pursue meaningful lives that encompass seemingly disparate identities while also fulfilling Jewish values around family, education, culture, and spirituality.
Gay and Lesbian Orthodox Jews: This site is designed for LGBT people that are also members of the Orthodox Jewish Community. There is an in-depth conversation about religious texts available in the FAQ section as well as statements from Orthodox Rabbis regarding the intersection of Judaism and sexuality.
The Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation: The Institute for Judaism, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) is the first and only institute of its kind in the Jewish world. The Institute was founded in 2000 to educate HUC-JIR students on LGBT issues to help them challenge and eliminate homophobia and heterosexism; and to learn tools to be able to transform the communities they encounter into ones that are inclusive and welcoming of LGBT Jews.
JQ Youth: JQ Youth is a social network and support group for Orthodox and formerly Orthodox LGBT youth. Their site has a number of personal stories, videos, and an extensive list of resources for young people, their parents, families, and allies.
Keshet: Keshet is a national grassroots organization that works for the full equality and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews in Jewish life. Led and supported by LGBT Jews and straight allies, Keshet strives to cultivate the spirit and practice of inclusion in all parts of the Jewish community.
The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews: Keshet Ga’avah Keshet Ga’Avah consists of more than 25 member organizations worldwide that work to ensure that LGBT Jews can live free and fulfilling lives. Formed in 1975, Keshet Ga’avah has held conferences all over the world to meet the needs of their members locally, nationally, and internationally.
SOJOURN: The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender & Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN) is the American South’s resource for Jewish & LGBTQ+ programming, education, support, and advocacy. Their mission is to advance LGBTQ+ affirmation and empowerment across the South.
SVARA: SVARA is an academy of Jewish text study dedicated to the study of the Talmud. It is open to all those who wish to participate including individuals from other religious backgrounds. It explicitly recognizes the insight and contribution that LGBT Jews and their allies can offer to the evolving Jewish tradition.
Union of Reform Judaism: Reform Judaism has a long and proud history of working for the full inclusion of LGBT people in Jewish life and for their full civil rights. As early as 1965, the Women of Reform Judaism called for the decriminalization of homosexuality. Resolutions by the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis followed. The social justice arm of the Reform Movement, the Religious Action Center, (RAC) has been at the forefront of the fight for LGBT equality. Today, in addition to several congregations whose primary outreach is to the LGBT community, LGBT Jews and their families are welcome in all of Reform temples. LGBT Jews may be ordained as rabbis and cantors and they serve throughout the Reform movement. Most Reform rabbis and cantors gladly officiate at same-sex ceremonies.