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Pride flag with white Star of David in the center

If you had asked me when I graduated from college in 2009 whether there was a need for predominantly LGBTQ+ synagogues, I probably would have said “not really, not anymore.”

If you had asked me again, before I started my rabbinical studies in 2013, I probably would have doubled down on that sentiment. I likely would have responded with an argument like this:

“Historically, LGBTQ+ Jews founded their own synagogues because mainstream synagogue life was not welcoming and accepting of LGBTQ+ folks. But we’ve come a long way, and given the progress we’ve made, especially in the...

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A toddler's hand holding a dreidel in the foreground; hanukkiyah and gifts in the background (blurred)

It’s a conversation I had had hundreds of times in my 44 years as a Jewish educator. However, this time was different: It was with my son.

“So, if Jill and I get married and neither of us converts, what is the best way to raise children?”

I was prepared because he and Jill had been dating for several years. Even though she never went to church when visiting us from Ann Arbor, where they were in school together, I knew her parents were very involved in their church.

My response went something like this:

“As your Mom, I would love to have Jewish grandchildren...

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Young children gathered around watching a woman read from a Torah scroll

On a recent Wednesday, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) first-year students gathered together for Israel Seminar. One day every week we focus on a different aspect of life here, viewing the country through historical, political, and sociological lenses. That week, we focused on Haredim, traditionally observant Jews often referred to as ultra-Orthodox in the U.S.

Although many people view this group as a monolith, there is a huge variety within and among the Haredi community. Some neighborhoods are plastered with signs decrying...

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Two women in wedding dresses holding hands and looking off camera

I recently had the honor of seeing Family in Transition, a documentary by Ofir Trainin that centered on a family living in Nahariya, Israel, called the Tsuks. In this town of just 56,000 people, the Tsuks stand out as the only family with a parent who is transgender (Amit).

The film chronicles the challenges that Amit, her former wife Galit, and their children endured during Amit’s gender transition, while showcasing the beautiful diversity within the Jewish world. I had the chance to sit with Amit and others involved...

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Students and others at a rally protesting a detention center in Tornillo, TX

The week before Thanksgiving, I participated in Rabbi Josh Whinston’s “Let Our Families Go!” caravan to Tornillo, TX, to witness and protest the detention camp there. Since my return, everyone has been asking about the trip.

“How was it?”

“What did you do?”

All perfectly natural questions, straightforward, to be expected, even. And yet, I have struggled to respond sincerely.

I imagine people want to hear how inspiring it was, how powerful and moving it...

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