Synagogue and Sexual Orientation

“Should gay flocks have their own churches?”

That was a question raised by Manya Brachear, a religion reporter for the Chicago Tribune. At JOI, we believe it doesn’t have to be either/or. A synagogue can be inclusive of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) members, just as LGBT synagogues can be inclusive of straight members. What’s important is that each congregation is welcoming towards all who approach. If the commandment is to welcome the stranger, than the orientation of the synagogue or congregation shouldn’t matter.

Manya posed the question on the Tribune’s religion blog The Seeker. She asks, “Should gays and lesbians have distinct congregations? Does that discourage mainstream houses of worship from welcoming them into their midst?” Some think separate congregations are okay, just as there are African American churches, but others think GLBT folks “should be part of mainstream churches.”

We think this can be applied to most groups who find themselves on the periphery of the mainstream Jewish community – intermarried families, adult children of intermarriage, multiracial Jews, etc… The shared common denominator among these folks is they are all Jewish. Shouldn’t that be enough to open the doors of any Jewish institution? What do you think?

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