Last night’s rabbinic forum at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, on Judaism and sexuality, was fascinating. Rabbis David-Seth Kirschner of Temple Emanu-El in Closter (Conservative), Yosef Adler of Cong. Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck (Orthodox), and Jordan Millstein of Temple Sinai in Tenafly (Reform) were the panelists and Reuven Kimelman, the JCC’s scholar in residence, the moderator.
It was an erudite and thoughtful conversation – centering largely on the fallout from the Standard’s publication of a same-sex marriage announcement, as I expected – but what was most important was that they were there, together, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform, earnestly and respectfully discussing what another rabbi has called “the great civil rights movement of our time,” the struggle for equality of the LGBT community.
Orthodox members of that community, who have a particularly hard fight for acceptance within their movement, were present, speaking out and demanding to be heard, and I approached Joy Kurland, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, and asked her to set up a meeting for them – their group’s name is Jewish Queer Youth – with Orthodox rabbis. (UJA-NNJ and the JCC co-sponsored the forum.)
The Standard has taken a lot of heat for that announcement and its aftershocks, but in a way we have done a mitzvah. We have got the community talking – and listening – to each other.
And we are listening as well.
Shabbat shalom to all.