More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Top 50 Rabbi List Includes LGBT Allies
Last month GLAAD featured a national survey of Jewish synagogues by Jewish Mosaic and the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation. The survey documented great support for LGBT inclusion by rabbis and the need for clear practices for that welcome.
A timely follow up to the survey is Newsweek's annual compilation of the 50 most influential rabbis released on April 4. Many of the rabbis on the list are already demonstrating their acceptance of LGBT issues including marriage for gay and lesbian couple - further supporting the survey's data on LGBT inclusion.
Here are just some of the LGBT friendly rabbis featured in Newsweek's list - you can weigh in if there are other rabbis who deserve kudos for their support of LGBT equality and tell us about their accomplishments for equality.
Other noteworthy rabbis not included on the list are Rabbi Toba Spitzer, open lesbian and president of the Reconstructionist Movement, and Rabbi Denise Eger, vice president of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis and outspoken faith leader against Prop 8.
#1 David Saperstein - As previously blogged by GLAAD, Saperstein was recently invited to participate as a member of the White House faith-based council. He is the Director of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism which has an LGBT rights program that is challenging Prop. 8 in California.
#8 Eric Yoffee - He is head of the Reform movement which supports welcoming LGBT people. Rabbi Yoffee welcomes and encourages congregations to bless gay couples.
#16 J. J. Rolando Matalon - In 2005, Matalon demonstrated support for another rabbi who faced expulsion due to a technical error. Matalon cited her ministry to the LGBT Jewish community in New York as a reason for his support.
#19 Jeffrey Wohlberg - After leaders of Conservative Judaism agreed to ordain gay rabbis and endorse same-sex commitment ceremonies in 2006, Wohlberg chaired a committee that recommended the structure for Conservative commitment ceremonies of same-sex unions. He also stated his willingness to perform the ceremonies.
#21 Harold M. Schulweis - Schulweis called the 2006 decision a "very courageous thing and is part of the evolution of religious mores." Schulweis is also the co-author of the book Lesbian and Gay Families Speak Out.
#23 Dan Ehrenkrantz - Along with other Jewish leaders, Ehrenkrantz released a statement applauding the 2006 decision in favor of ordaining openly gay rabbis stating that it is "a step toward advancing the rights of gay and lesbian Jews."
#25 Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum - Rabbi Kleinbauem is the Senior Rabbi of New York City's synagogue for the LGBT Jewish community, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST). Under her leadership, CBST has become an important voice in Judaism and in the movement to secure basic civil rights for gay people. She has also testified in Federal Court and before the U.S. Congress in hearings on the subject of same-sex marriage.
#32 Stephen Pearce - Rabbi Pearce is the leader at Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco's largest synagogue, which regularly performs same-sex weddings. Pearce was a vocal supporter of Mayor Gavin Newsom's move to allow same-sex marriage.
#34 Kerry M. Olitzky - Wrote about how "the big tent" includes ordination of LGBT people in Conservative Judaism as well as Hillel's new welcoming resource for Jewish students and campus leaders is progressive and welcoming.
#40 Bradley Shavit Artson - A supporter of full religious equality for gays, Rabbi Artson wrote a paper in 1992 advocating gay ordinations and unions. The paper also advocated lifting the ban on gay sex. He has argued that homosexuality is consistent with Jewish law, "provided that this sexuality is expressed within the context of a mutually exclusive, committed adult relationship."
#48 Jill Jacobs - Rabbi Jacobs has been an avid supporter of social justice issues including equality for women and gays and lesbians.
#49 Joy Levitt - Rabbi Joy Levitt is the Executive Director at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. The LGBTQ outreach program was one of the first two programs developed at the center.