Reform Jewish Movement Responds to Decision in Foster Care Case

June 17, 2021

WASHINGTON – In response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Fulton v. Philadelphia, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the wider Reform Movement institutions:

We are disappointed in today’s Supreme Court decision that the City of Philadelphia’s treatment of Catholic Social Services violated the agency’s constitutional rights to decline to place foster children with same-sex couples based on the provider’s religious teachings. This decision harms foster parents – including LGBTQ+ people, religious minorities, women, and others who may not conform to the provider’s religious beliefs – and threatens the opportunity for thousands of foster youth to find safe and caring homes.

While we are disappointed in the specific result in this case, importantly, the Supreme Court did not recognize a broader right, per se, by taxpayer-funded social service providers to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. We continue to hold that social service providers should not be allowed to choose whom to serve when receiving government funding, as allowing discrimination to supersede provision of social services will endanger lives and harm the most vulnerable.

Jewish text and tradition compellingly lead to our beliefs in the principles of nondiscrimination and the separation of church and state. Judaism teaches that all people are created in the Divine image and deserve dignity and respect. As we apply these values to U.S. law and policy, we hold that this value applies regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or religion. Jews have faced persecution throughout our history, and we know that state-backed discrimination quickly becomes a stain on the nation.

As we live conscious of this history and of being created in God’s image, we must work to ensure that nobody faces discrimination. We call on Congress to pass the Equality Act to update our civil rights laws and ensure explicit nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the social justice office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 850 congregations across North America encompass approximately 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit for more.