Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Leaving ‘Death in Venice’ to Choose Life in Tel Aviv ‘Yossi,’ by Eytan Fox, Depicts a Gay Doctor in Israel"

http://movies.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/movies/yossi-by-eytan-fox-depicts-a-gay-doctor-in-israel.html?_r=0

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf of Adas Israel, D.C.-"The queerness of love: A Jewish case for same-sex marriage"

 "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.  Nevertheless,  I was proud to stand beneath the wedding canopy with this couple, who affirmed the sacredness of their union “in accordance with the laws of Moses and the people of Israel.”  Before I chose to officiate, I studied the texts, teachings, and arguments in my tradition.  I didn’t make this decision lightly.  Today, I am unfazed by the apparent biblical injunction against homosexuality as an “abomination.”  I am confident in my stand, despite a 3,000-year-old tradition that has no precedent for such a marriage.  In fact, it is from a place of humility and awe before my tradition and God that I have chosen take this stand."
Read More Here:The queerness of love: A Jewish case for same-sex marriage | Opinion | Jewish Journal

"On Suggesting Suicide Is A Mitzvah" by Avi Rossman


"The Torah teaches us to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. It is this fundamental Jewish value that was emphasized throughout my yeshiva education and today it is this same value that I stress to my own children.
I read with utter disbelief that a rabbi would suggest that the suicide of a homosexual Jew is a mitzvah (“The Cost Of Standing Idly By,” Opinion, Oct. 15).
 (http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial_opinion/opinion/cost_standing_idly  by Rabbi Steve Greenberg)
I don’t understand how we Orthodox Jews cannot bring ourselves to feel compassion and be tolerant towards homosexuals in our community. I am not advocating changing the Torah law. But the Orthodox community has shown that it can embrace Jews who have transgressed many laws in the Torah; why must we single out homosexuality as being so abhorrent? Why are we teaching our children to hate and exclude? 
The sin that a homosexual couple may or may not commit in the privacy of their home is between them and God. The sin that we as the Orthodox community commit in our attitude towards homosexual Jews is between us and our fellow Jews. Shame on us."

This article can be found at the JEWISHWEEK.COM using the following link: On Suggesting Suicide Is A Mitzvah

Book: "Oddly Normal" Growing Up Gay in 2013 - The Atlantic

Growing Up Gay in 2013 - The Atlantic
"In his new book Oddly Normal, New York Times writer John Schwartz shares the moving story of how he and his wife Jeanne have struggled against often-problematic systems to support their son Joe, who is gay. I asked Joe, now 17 years old, to expand on some of the themes explored in the book and answer some questions raised by people who have commented on it."

Teen Taken Off Life Support After Suicide Attempt | Advocate.com

Teen Taken Off Life Support After Suicide Attempt | Advocate.com

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Kol Isha: Don't Drown Out a Woman's Voice" by Rabbi Herzfeld of Ohev Shalom D.C.

"Kol Isha: Don't Drown Out a Woman's Voice" article


"The Tikvah Fellowship" Great Opportunity!

http://tikvahfellowship.org

The Tikvah Fellowship is a one-year, full-time, residential program for exceptional individuals interested in the political, religious, and intellectual future of the Jewish people. Based in New York City, the fellowship program offers participants an unparalleled opportunity to study and work with leading thinkers and practitioners in fields including Jewish thought and history, Israeli and American politics, religious leadership, journalism, economics, education, and community life.
Fellows receive a stipend between $25,000-$75,000 commensurate with experience.

"Sexual Orientation Issues in the Jewish Community"- Hebrew Union College

http://elearning.huc.edu/jhvrc/index.php

"Gay and Lesbian Rights: How Jews See It"- Jews on First

http://www.jewsonfirst.org/howjewsseegr.html
-Conversation with Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Local Jews Clash Over Pride in Israel, The gay question and the Jewish question, Jerusalem’s Pride Divide, We Stopped The March - For Now, Gay Parade Scheduled To Take Place In Jerusalem, Gay 'Marriage' in Israel: Worse than Holocaust - Will Cause Terrorism Warns Rabbi Levin, This election year, national battles being fought through local initiatives, Reform Jewish Movement Urges Senate to Oppose Federal Marriage Amendment, Liberals Defend Gay Marriage As Religious Right, Clergy Condemn Anti-Gay Federal Amendment, Clergy Group Aims to Block Gay Marriage Amendment, Federations Move Toward Gay Outreach, Majority In Conservative Judaism Support Gay Ordinations Survey Finds, The Gay Orthodox Underground

"Living in ultra-Orthodox closet" YNET News

"At home they observe mitzvoth, but sometimes they sneak out to clubs and chows down on seafood. Ynetnews presents story of haredim who hide new secular life because price of exposure is too high... 
This wasn't the first time he had tried. At first, he filled the bathtub with water and tried to drown himself. Later, he thought of entering the sea and never coming out, filling his lungs with water and sinking into eternal rest. But every single time, he thought of his children, who would be left fatherless. "I am suffering," he told me when we first met months ago. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about how I'm living a double life: A secular living under the guise of a haredi. It feels like Purim, only in my life, I am always in costume."
Living in ultra-Orthodox closet YNETNEWS.COM

"Left rips into Jewish Home candidate for coming out against single-sex unions" Times Of Israel

"Eli Ben Dahan, number 4 on the Jewish Home party list, came under fire on Monday for speaking out against the institution of homosexual marriage and calling it a “recipe for the destruction of the Jewish people.”
Ben Dahan emphasized in an interview with Walla News that he was not talking about how members of the gay community should be treated, but was specifically referring to the legal recognition of gay marriage. “Every sociology professor will tell you that the foundation of every nation is the family unit,” said Ben Dahan, a rabbi who holds degrees in business administration and public policy. He said that we cannot recognize a “reality in which we do not create a next generation.”

"Gay Orthodox Jews vs The World"- EYES WIDE OPEN trailer (High Quality, New English Subs)


“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination.” States The Torah, which, like most religious tracts, isn’t so big on gay relationships. Promising that gay people, “shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them”, is probably one of the few things Jews and Muslims and Christians could bond over. Which is why Eyes Wide Open is pissing people off.
http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/gay-orthodox-jews-vs-the-world

"Chemical Castration for Gay Jews Promoted By Radical Orthodox Rabbi"

"This is just awful. A Brooklyn Rabbi, Yehuda Levin, wrote that gay men should consider chemical castration “as you do with cancer” to stop their same-sex feelings. Levin made his comments in a Letter to the Editor in response to a groundbreaking op-ed written in the Jewish Press by Chaim Levin. (No relation). The op-ed was important because it was the first time that this conservative publication published a column written from the perspective of an openly gay former Orthodox Jew." 
http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2012/02/22164/

"How many LGBT Jews are there?" Jewish Federation


  • At least 7% of American Jews (just under 500,000) identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB). We have very limited quantitative data on transgender Jews.
  • 31% of LGB respondents to a large 2007 national Jewish survey were partnered or married.
  • Interfaith relationships are the norm. The same survey found only 11% of LGB Jews partnered with other Jews (roughly one third of those LGB Jews who reported being partnered). 
How many LGBT Jews are there? Jewish Federation

"Josh Siegel: God Makes Gay Jews, Too"



Josh Siegel, Co-Chair, DCC JCC, GLOE Program, talks about God having created Gay and Lesbian Jews, too, and how much, as Jews, they give to the community. Visit us at www.theg-dproject.org

"Orthodox attitudes to gay people shift" Guardian.UK

"If you think the Christian world has a problem with gay people, you should try orthodox Judaism. For centuries homosexuality has been taboo; it's not what nice Jewish boys or girls do. The biblical proscription against "men lying with men as though with a woman" (Leviticus 20:13) is considered the very bedrock of Jewish morality. For traditional Judaism marriage is the highest state of social bonding – a true union of body and soul. Despite some odd exceptions in biblical and rabbinical literature, (Jeremiah is told by God to stay single, Ben Azzai, one of the greatest of the Mishnaic teachers, remains a bachelor by choice), even celibacy was frowned upon. Part of this opposition was no doubt based on a response to the cultural environment – pagan in the biblical era, Christian in the rabbinic one. But despite major shifts in sociological contexts, the ban against homosexuality was rigidly enforced throughout the centuries. Whilst in other areas the rabbis often showed great flexibility and understanding, this particular area remained off-limits" 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/aug/09/gay-orthodox-judaism-rabbis

Israeli Film "Yossi"- ‘New World Out There’ For Gays, Israel

‘New World Out There’ For Gays, Israel
“I wanted to revisit myself, on a personal level and on an artistic, professional level,” Fox said. “I think the form I chose for ‘Yossi’ seemed better [for] today. I think Yossi, his life, his energy, the way he and his life are conducted suits this better.
“When we made the first film, I wanted to do something rough and documentary-style. This film looks more self-aware, formalistic. It’s more grown-up, more adult. As a filmmaker I have different films inside of me. This was right for me now. I’m better filmmaker than I was when I started and I’m a smarter, more aware person than I was.”
“Yossi,” written and directed by Eytan Fox, opens Friday, January 25 at the Angelika Film Center (18 W. Houston St., at Mercer Street). For information, call (212) 995-2570 or go to www.angelikafilmcenter.com.

Chabad: "Do Homosexuals Fit into the Jewish Community?"

"Question: According to Jewish law, how should a person react to homosexual feelings? Do homosexuals fit into the Jewish community?"
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/663504/jewish/Do-Homosexuals-Fit-into-the-Jewish-Community.htm

Aaron Swartz, the 26 year-old hacktivist commits suicide-"Hillel the Hacktivist"–Forward.com


"Swartz, who suffered from chronic depression, hung himself from a window with a leather belt after learning that his latest effort to reduce his sentence had been rebuffed — a fact Ortiz now denies. He is now the second hacker pursued by Heymann and Ortiz to have taken his own life.
Swartz’s case raises serious questions not only about prosecutorial overreach and the overly vague nature of computer crimes legislation. It also forces us to ask how we as a society approach the issue of copyright infringement — particularly whether the weight to which we give the economic interests of copyright cartels should be greater than our obligation to educate society and improve ourselves by making scholarship openly accessible."
Hillel the Hacktivist – Forward Thinking – Forward.com

One-Way Mirror Mechitzah Proposed at Kotel – The Sisterhood – Forward.com

"A taller mechitzah with one-way glass might prevent these easily distracted men from glimpsing a woman’s face and (shudder) possibly even fully-clothed shoulders over the top of the mechitzah. But the dimness of this glass would also make it more difficult for women to see what is happening on the men’s side. And it would certainly more fully segregate women, boxing them into a space that may serve men’s interests but certainly does nothing to enhance women’s experiences."
One-Way Mirror Mechitzah Proposed at Kotel – The Sisterhood – Forward.com

"Israel's Other Impending Election" David Stav Offers Illusion of Pluralism in Chief Rabbi Fight – Forward.com

"While attention remains focused on the election of a new Knesset and the formation of a new government, the battle over another election — for Israel’s Chief Rabbinate — is just heating up. These elections, too, have far-reaching ramifications for the American Jewish community and for the well-being of Israel."
Read more: http://forward.com/articles/169602/israels-other-impending-election/?p=all#ixzz2IfLw4rp7
Israel's Other Impending Election – Forward.com

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rabbi Shmuley Herzfeld: "Chok and Egel Ha-Zahav: Homosexuality and Orthodox Jews"

2/4/2000- This past week I had the very meaningful experience which I am deeply grateful for of being on a rabbinic retreat sponsored by Clal.  The retreat brings together rabbis from different denominations in Judaism and we spent a week studying together in Newport R.I. 

And there is one moment in particular that happened on that retreat that will stick with me for a very long time.  On Thursday night, we saw the film Trembling before God, which movingly and emotionally portrays the conflicted and torn lives of individuals who come from a background of Orthodox Judaism and in many cases still wish to remain within the Orthodox Jewish community and yet have publicly announced that they are gay.

The director of this movie did a wonderful job of contrasting the views of rabbis whom he interviewed for the film-including R. Shlomo Riskin-who uniformly responded that a gay Jew is someone we must love, but is also someone who is entirely violating halakhah, with the reaction of the community's and more particularly the families of these individuals, who generally ostracized the open homosexuals and made them feel unwelcome in our Godly community.

David Blankenhorn opinion: "Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld’s Sermon on Same-Sex Marriage: An Appreciation"

If you want to read a good sermon, I sincerely recommend “Same Sex Marriage in America,” delivered on December 15, 2012, by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue, an Orthodox Jewish congregation in Washington, D.C.
Check out this argument. Rabbi Herzfeld first argues that the Torah prohibits homosexual conduct and that, accordingly, gay marriage should not be institutionalized within Orthodox Judaism.  He goes on, however, to argue in favor of changing U.S. civil law to permit same-sex marriage, on the grounds that Jewish law and civil law are two different things, and on the grounds of basic fairness to gay and lesbian people and couples.
But he’s just getting warmed up.  He further argues that he can discern no good reason for moral disapproval of homosexual conduct; he doesn’t know why the Torah prohibits it.  And on those grounds, he argues that, from an Orthodox Jewish perspective, homosexual conduct is not a moral sin, but instead (using a word that is not familiar to me) a chok, or “a prohibition whose violation should not carry our outrage or moral disapproval.”  He compares the (to my mind, technical) violation within Orthodox Judaism of engaging in homosexual conduct to the violation of “a Jew who decides to wear a garment made of wool and linen.”

And what is the moral basis of Rabbi Herzfeld’s argument?  Well, let him answer:

Will Yeshiva Make Abuse Report Public? Alleged Victims Worry About Probe's Scope and Transparency

Will Yeshiva Make Abuse Report Public? – Forward.com 1/8/13
"Shmuel Herzfeld, who is the rabbi of Washington, D.C.’s National Synagogue and graduated from Y.U.’s high school in 1992, is one of those who have publicly complained about the investigation. 
Herzfeld said he spoke to Karen Seymour, the lawyer leading the Sullivan & Cromwell team, by telephone on December 26. Herzfeld said he had in mind the report commissioned by Pennsylvania State University in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal when he spoke to Seymour. 
In the Penn State case, Louis Freeh, a former head of the FBI, was given access to university employees and board members. Although some said that the Freeh report had its flaws, it was seen as a breakthrough in transparency and in an institution’s willingness to confront errors in judgment. 
But Herzfeld said he was dismayed when Seymour told him that her report might be delivered to the Y.U. board orally rather than in writing. He said he was even more alarmed when Seymour said that unlike the Freeh report, which was disseminated publicly the same day it was presented to the board, she “could not say whether… the board would release the report to the public.” 
Herzfeld said he has spoken to former Y.U. high school students who say they were abused but are fearful “that what they tell the investigator will not be given a proper hearing.” So Herzfeld sent a letter, signed by 18 Y.U. high school alumni, to the chairman of the university’s board on January 3, asking that the investigation follow the blueprint laid out by the Freeh report. By January 8, the chairman, Henry Kressel, a managing director at a private equity firm in Manhattan, had not responded."

($51 Million) "If You Build It, Will They Come? Years late and way over budget, a new home holds Lincoln Square Synagogue's hopes for a revival."

If You Build It, Will They Come? By Gary Rosenblatt of the Jewish Week NY 
“If the synagogue only attracts people from other Orthodox congregations, it will have failed its mission,” according to Kestenbaum. Success will be measured, he asserted, by whether it can bring in and appeal to people “who otherwise aren’t spending their Shabbat at services.” 
That’s precisely how Lincoln Square grew from a small Conservative congregation meeting in a nearby Lincoln Towers apartment in the mid-1960s into the most talked-about and popular Orthodox congregation in the city, if not the country.The man most responsible for that transformation was a then-baby-faced 23-year-old Yeshiva University-trained rabbi, Steven (now Shlomo) Riskin, whose innovative and dynamic teachings and warm personality attracted hundreds of young people to services and weeknight lectures and classes."

"Learning To Accept Our Ordinariness"by Rabbi Gerald Skolnikm

Learning To Accept Our Ordinariness 1/10/13 Jewish Week NY.
"We cannot, and should not, allow ourselves to believe that we are a perfect community, or special in ways that others are not. What we can do-– and should do– is aspire to be different, and hopefully better. We will always have our members who are struggling with the same issues as everyone else. That should not surprise us. But the truest measure of who we are as a community should be how we relate to them, and their sense of being in exile. Isolating them by pretending they’re not there just makes their situation that much more painful. We can, and must, be better than that."

Getting To Nordstrom’s-Judaism is a great product. So why does our poor customer service get in the way, again and again?

Getting To Nordstrom’s - Jewish Week 1/3/13
"We don’t want customers. We want trusted and loyal stakeholders. But we have to show our own worthiness as institutions. And if you think this isn’t Jewish, think again. We practically invented customer service. Look back at the Abraham stories of kindness. Lesson: Be kind to strangers. One day they may just become your angels.
Imagine, for a moment, that your Jewish institution — fill in the blank — is about to merge with Nordstrom’s. What would be different? Sometimes we’re a Ritz-Carlton people stuck in Motel 6 packaging. We can do better. We must."

Since Lanner: What I've Learned, What I Wonder At a time when touching a student can trigger disciplinary action, is it fair to retroactively apply current standards of behavior to teachers?

Since Lanner: What I've Learned, What I Wonder. By Gary Rosenblatt of the Jewish Week NY. 1/8/13
"I don’t think there are easy answers to these and many other such “gray area” cases, and I struggle with a response, not only as a journalist but simply as a member of the Jewish community.
We’ve come a long way in the last dozen years in terms of awareness of abuse. But we still have a long way to go in thinking first of the victims and potential future victims, and in being a confident and responsible community rather than one fearful and insecure.
In the end it’s not about “airing our dirty laundry in public.” It’s about cleaning it, and keeping it clean."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Will Yeshiva Make Abuse Report Public? – Forward.com

Will Yeshiva Make Abuse Report Public? – Forward.com
"Shmuel Herzfeld, who is the rabbi of Washington, D.C.’s National Synagogue and graduated from Y.U.’s high school in 1992, is one of those who have publicly complained about the investigation.
Herzfeld said he spoke to Karen Seymour, the lawyer leading the Sullivan & Cromwell team, by telephone on December 26. Herzfeld said he had in mind the report commissioned by Pennsylvania State University in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal when he spoke to Seymour.
In the Penn State case, Louis Freeh, a former head of the FBI, was given access to university employees and board members. Although some said that the Freeh report had its flaws, it was seen as a breakthrough in transparency and in an institution’s willingness to confront errors in judgment.
But Herzfeld said he was dismayed when Seymour told him that her report might be delivered to the Y.U. board orally rather than in writing. He said he was even more alarmed when Seymour said that unlike the Freeh report, which was disseminated publicly the same day it was presented to the board, she “could not say whether… the board would release the report to the public.”
Herzfeld said he has spoken to former Y.U. high school students who say they were abused but are fearful “that what they tell the investigator will not be given a proper hearing.” So Herzfeld sent a letter, signed by 18 Y.U. high school alumni, to the chairman of the university’s board on January 3, asking that the investigation follow the blueprint laid out by the Freeh report. By January 8, the chairman, Henry Kressel, a managing director at a private equity firm in Manhattan, had not responded."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Trembling Before G-d: Turning A Movie Into A Movement" by Sandi DuBowski

"Trembling Before G-d has gone way beyond what any of us ever dreamed or imagined and the work with the film to impact social change continues. Orthodox GLBT organizations are thriving -- JQY, Eshel, GLYDSA, Bat-Kol, Havruta and Temicha for Orthodox parents of GLBT people. 
And the struggle of films to make change is ongoing especially on the issues of faith and sexuality in the 21st century. In the past year, Macky Alston has taken his film, Love Free or Die, about Bishop Gene Robinson, to churches across the country. And this tradition will be carried on by God Loves Uganda, premiering at Sundance this month, about the evangelical movement in Uganda's attempt to eliminate "sexual sin" and convert Ugandans to fundamentalist Christianity. The fight and the impact continues..."

"Out In Lubavitch" by Chaim Levine


"Losing My Religion Over... My Religion" by Jarrett Hill


"Toronto group brings gay Jewish men together" - Canadian Jewish News



"An unholy link between Hagel’s anti-Gay and anti-Jewish slurs" by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Same Sex Marriage in America: What Does Orthodox Judaism Say?" by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld (Ohev Sholom in D.C.)

"Same Sex Marriage in America:What Does Orthodox Judaism Say?"by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld (Ohev Shalom "The National Synagogue" in Washington, D.C.)  
**Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld is also the author of:  Fifty-Four Pick Up: Fifteen Minute Inspirational Torah Lessons 

"Acceptance and Inclusion Can Only Bring Gay Jews Closer" by Rich Dweck


                         1/8/13- After many years of being an Orthodox Jew, around 12 years ago I left Judaism for the most part. I left because I felt there was no place for me as a gay Jew. Judaism had always been at the core of who I was. I plan to share my past experiences along with my current experience as a Jew. 

         I was involved in many community organizations, spent a year in Israel learning in yeshiva at B.M.T. I am not sure why the nickname was “Best Meal in Town”, because it certainly was not. I then went to Yeshiva University for a semester and was in therapy dealing with some personal issues. I had a chance to work through some with Joseph Beyda may he rest in peace. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away before we could talk about dealing with being gay.

         I dated a wonderful young woman from my community and felt like my life was on the right track. I felt like she was the one. But, I was having issues with the fact that I was constantly being bombarded by thoughts of homosexuality. I knew she was attractive, but wasn’t really sure if I was attracted to her. If I wasn’t attracted to her, then I wouldn’t be attracted to anyone else of the female population. So I decided to break it off with her and decided to find a therapist that would help me get rid of my attraction to men. The process went on for two years and gave me hope. Prior to that I was very depressed and somewhat suicidal.

         At the end of this process I realized that I wasn’t going to change and $24,000 later I was in the same position. I am sure he meant well, but it gave me false hope. This false hope didn’t pan out the way he said and only made me more depressed and more suicidal. I had to figure something out.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rav Aaron Lichtenstein- "Rabbi: Exhibit ‘greater honesty’ toward gays"- Jerusalem Post


Rav Aaron Lichtenstein
1/2/13 by Jeremy Sharon of the Jerusalem Post
Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, dean of the prestigious Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut and a leading figure in the nationalreligious community, said recently that the religious community should be more honest with itself in regards to the way it relates to homosexuals.
In a conversation with his students back in November about how the religious community relates to homosexuality, transcribed by the rabbi’s executive assistant Dov Karoll and posted on his blog, Lichtenstein pointed to the Salute to Israel Parade in New York several years ago, when an association of Jewish gays and lesbians said they would be marching in the parade under their banner, along with many other Jewish denominations, which led religious high schools to threaten to pull out of the march.
“You ask yourself, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t like homosexuality, but we don’t like Shabbat violation either,’” Lichtenstein said. “All the Shabbat violators of America could have marched in that parade and no one would say boo, because we are very liberal Jews, and we like to not be judgmental, and be friendly to people to the Right and the Left of us.
“So, those who break the Shabbat – we wish they would be Shabbat-observant, but if that’s what they are, that’s what they are, we accept them as they are and we don’t pass judgment,” the rabbi said.

"Gay Jews in the U.K. to document life over the rainbow"- Haaretz

Haaretz: 12/28/12 by Daniella Peled- A new grant from the UK Heritage Lottery Fund will allow the gay Jewish community to research, record and archive its colorful roots.

Coming out to your rabbi can be a nerve-wracking experience, particularly when he's the head of the United Synagogue, which represents much of England's Jewish community – and your boss. But Mark Solomon, an Orthodox minister at the time, recalls that the reaction of Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks at their pivotal meeting in January 1992 was "quite kind." 

"Under his breath, he said 'Oh my God.' Then he gave me a little spiel about why he thought homosexuality was wrong – but he wished me well and said that the door was always open." 

Most significantly, says Solomon, who had already decided to leave his job as a rabbi at an orthodox London synagogue, Sacks allowed him to work out the remainder of his job. 
Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks of the UK

The experience of Solomon, now 49 and a prominent rabbi in UK's Liberal Synagogue, is likely to be part of a landmark project launching next month to record the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews in the United Kingdom. 

The two-year "Rainbow Jews" initiative, the first of its kind in the UK, has been awarded a grant of nearly 60,000 pounds by the UK Heritage Lottery Fund to research, record and archive the experiences of British LGBT Jews from the 1950s until the present day. The theme of the project, conducted under the auspices of the Liberal Judaism movement, is "Pioneers and Milestones." 

British Jews have long been something of pioneers in LGBT rights. The Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, was the first body of its kind established in the world. The first ordination of an openly LGBT rabbi came in 1989, when Elizabeth Tikva Sarah graduated from the progressive Leo Baeck College. 

In 2005 Liberal Judaism became the first religious movement to introduce an official liturgy for blessing same-sex commitment ceremonies, the Brit Ahava, just ahead of British legislation recognizing civil partnerships. 

But the history of Jewish-British LGBT activism remains uncharted, says Su Rath Knan, the project's initiator and director. 

"This is something we have to uncover and share with the Jewish and the wider British community," Knan says. "We need to take it out of its hidden space and celebrate it; it is a history that has never really been looked at."

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