December 18, 2014 · 26 Kislev

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Are We All Created in God's Image?: Gay/Lesbian Issues and Challenges in our Jewish Community

Temple Israel

7023 Cass Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68132

What began as a panel discussion on gay/lesbian issues in this conservative, heartland city, became a transformative process for a congregation struggling to understand and meet the needs of all of its members. The process began with bringing in outside experts and members of the congregation for a panel discussion on Jewish and psychological approaches to gay and lesbian issues. At the end of the session, two gay male members of the congregation asked the rabbi to perform a commitment ceremony. While such ceremonies may be common today on the coasts, they are still almost unheard of in Omaha, Nebraska. The rabbi engaged the congregation, through a special task force, in helping define the issues that must be addressed in making the decision and to serve as an advisory committee for him. The task force, representing a broad cross-section of the congregation, conducted research on what other congregations have done in the same situation and provided opportunities for the rest of the congregation to be involved in the process. Ultimately, on the recommendation of the task force, the board of trustees passed a resolution allowing the rabbi to exercise his/her own authority. The process by which the decision was made is highly commendable and can serve as a model for congregations struggling to make decisions on potentially divisive issues.

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