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Reconstructionist Rabbis Pass Resolution Inclusive of ‘All Gender Identities in Jewish Life’

‘It was about making sure our congregations didn’t discriminate’

by
Zoë Miller
March 30, 2017
Sarah Rice/Getty Images
A scene at the San Francisco's annual LGBT Pride Celebration & Parade, June 30, 2013. Sarah Rice/Getty Images

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association approved a resolution fully inclusive of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals at its biennial convention held on Tuesday in Portland, Oregon.

The resolution articulates RRA’s commitment “to the full inclusion, acceptance, appreciation, celebration and welcome of people of all gender identities in Jewish life and in society at large” and “strongly advocates for the full equality of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people and for equal protections for people of all gender identities under the law, at all levels of government, in North America and Israel.”

Given that this week’s announcement falls a year and a half behind the gender equality statement issued by the Reform movement, and nine months after the Conservative movement’s resolution backing transgender rights, you might be wondering what took the RRA–widely known for its progressive policies–so long to publicly rally for gender equality.

The delay was a matter of logistics: The Reconstructionist movement operates as a collaboration between a variety of entities (the association encompasses about 100 synagogues and 350 rabbis) and the convention body only gathers once every two years. Resolutions must go through a rigorous review process before they are passed. Therefore, any documents proposed after the last convention could not be given the green light at an earlier date.

But the recent gender-focused edict is not the RRA’s first. At the 2013 convention, the association issued a similar, shorter resolution that focused on the internal policies of RRA’s constituent organizations rather than on the broader Jewish community, acknowledging the diverse gender identities represented in the RRA network.

“It was about making sure our congregations didn’t discriminate,” said Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, RRA’s staff director, in an interview. “This resolution continues that work and goes forward to continue advocating broadly for the inclusion of individuals who identify as transgender in the world at large.”

As for the future, Wechterman said that the RRA will continue to foster the relationship between radical inclusion and radical commitment to tradition.

“The more Jewish voices from the margins are brought in, the more the Jewish community is expanded,” she said.

Zoe Miller is Tablet’s editorial intern. Follow her on Twitter here.

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