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Devotions and DesiresHistories of Sexuality and Religion in the Twentieth-Century United States$
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Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, and Heather R. White

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469636269

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469636269.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 16 September 2021

The Making of Gay and Lesbian Rabbis in Reconstructionist Judaism, 1979–1992

The Making of Gay and Lesbian Rabbis in Reconstructionist Judaism, 1979–1992

(p.214) The Making of Gay and Lesbian Rabbis in Reconstructionist Judaism, 1979–1992
Devotions and Desires

Rebecca T. Alpert

Jacob J. Staub

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter tells how one Jewish denomination, the Reconstructionists, came to accept gay men and lesbians in their school for training rabbis in 1984, making Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) the first school for training rabbis to admit and ordain openly gay and lesbian students and only the second denomination in the United States to formally allow gay and lesbian religious leadership. This move was particularly bold at a time when other religious organizations, even liberal ones, were actively barring gay men and lesbians from the clergy. The story of RRC’s shift in policy between 1979 and 1992 reveals the tangled and uneven nature of institutional and ideological change in sexual and religious mores. At first glance, much about the shifts in RCC’s processes and practices does not seem “religious”—if by that term we mean formal teaching, ritual practice, or textual interpretation. But institutional practices and decisions about policy were also deeply tied to, shaped by, and productive of religious meanings. The story of how RRC came to accept the ordination of gays and lesbians as rabbis highlights the complicated relationship between policy and practice.

Keywords:   Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, ordination, rabbis, gay rabbis, gay ordination, lesbian rabbis, Judaism, gay liberation, Twice Blessed, Reform

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