Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation

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08The office of rabbi is easily the most visible symbol of power and prestige in Jewish communities. Rabbis both interpret with their congregations certain requirements of Jewish life and instruct congregants in how to live this life.

Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation documents a monumental improvement in Jewish life as eighteen lesbian rabbis think on their experiences as trailblazers in Judaism’s journey into an extremely multicultural world. In frank and revealing essays, the contributors discuss their decisions to be rabbis and describe their experiences both for the seminaries along with their rabbinical positions. They also think of the dilemma getting in touch with conceal or reveal their sexual identities for their congregants and superiors, or even serve specifically gay and lesbian congregations. The contributors look at the tensions between lesbian identity and Jewish identity, and inquire whether you will find particularly “lesbian” readings of traditional texts. These essays also ask how a language of Jewish tradition touches the lives of lesbians and exactly how lesbianism challenges traditional notions in the Jewish family.

“‘Today I am completely ‘out’ personally and professionally, but I have found out that the ‘coming out’ process never ends. Even today, I find myself in professional situations by which yet again I must reveal that I am a lesbian, just as before I must prove myself value functioning professionally within the ‘straight’ world. I still encounter moments of awkwardness, some hostility, and many sense of exclusion as I negotiate the pathways of my professional life.”-Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, from Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation

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