US Reform Jewish rabbis appoint lesbian president

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

An openly lesbian rabbi has been appointed as the head of the US Reform Jewish group.

Renowned rabbi Denise L Eger was this week elected to lead the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which is the largest rabbinical organization in the world.

The rabbi – who worked extensively on HIV and AIDS – told Associated Press of her appointment: “It really shows an arc of LGBT civil rights… I smile a lot — with a smile of incredulousness.

“It’s about human rights and human dignity. If you can be a rabbi, if you can be a person of faith, if you can serve a community as their pastor, and you can have the opportunity to begin
to reconcile all of those issues, it speaks volumes.”

Rabbi Hara E Person, publisher and director of the CCAR Press told “On a basic level, she is the first openly gay president, and that’s a big deal historically.

“But Denise brings so much more, including her commitment to Reform Judaism and our values, human rights, basic human dignity, and social activism.”

Rabbi Eger continued: “It is an amazing arc of history and speaks to the way Reform Judaism has encouraged the discernment and education that has made it possible to make the movement more inclusive.

“Loving your neighbour as yourself remains an overriding moral value and reminds us that we engage with another from a place of love and kindness, which are antidotes to the hate and exclusiveness of this world.”

Though it is the first time a lesbian has been appointed president within Reform Judaism, Rabbi Toba Spitzer was previously national president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association.