This weekend, Johannesburg is celebrating Pride day, and by that diversity in our South African society. While the legal position of people, who identify as LGBTI* in South Africa, is not bad at all (not only in comparison to other African states but also in  comparison to Worldwide standards), still many of the queer, gay and trans community suffer from great discrimination, social exclusion and marginalisation, often including physical and sexual abuse when people “come out“. It is happening in our neighbourhoods, in the countryside, and in our cities, and it is not only part of the reality outside our own circles, but also inside the Jewish community, including our own one.

As Progressive Jews, we recognise the Divine image in every human being. Human dignity doesn’t have limitations. As much as we do not discriminate race, social/economical background, and skin colour, we must also uphold the rights and dignity of every person who is identifying as Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Gay, Trans, Queer, Hetero, or even not within any of those terms. As early as in the Talmud, our sages have recognised at least 7 genders, teaching us that gender-identity is more than two options*.

It goes without saying … but I guess we/I have to say it again: This rabbi, our movement and our community, Bet David, has and always will welcome, respect, embrace and shower overflowing chesed (love) upon all, including people who are/identify as LGBTI*.

Happy pride day – Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Adrian M Schell

 *A handout with the teaching of the Talmud is available here: Handout More Than Just Male and Female The Seven Genders in Classical Judaism