Thank you to Outwords for acknowledging Shaarey Zedek Synagogue’s choices in favour of gay and lesbian Jews (Corey Sherman, “Love Honour and Cherish: A New Home For Winnipeg’s Queer Jews”, December 2010). At the same time, let us recognize longer-standing “homes for Winnipeg’s queer Jews”. For example, Temple Shalom, our Reform Jewish congregation, has offered same-sex weddings for years. The Temple is led by a lesbian Rabbi, Karen Soria, who would be a fitting subject for a future interview. A Jewish GLBT group, Anakhnu, is funded and supported by the Rady Jewish Community Centre, which represents the Jewish community as a whole.
It’s also worth noting that Winnipeg’s largest Orthodox Jewish congregation, Herzlia, while limited by traditional understandings of Jewish law, has made strong statements in support of gay and lesbian dignity. After the homophobic murders in Tel Aviv in August 2009, Rabbi Ari Ellis circulated a prayer asking for all to recognize that “the entirety of the Jewish people, straight and gay, is interwoven with and responsible for every one of its members”.
The observation that the Winnipeg Jewish community “has drifted to the right politically” is not necessarily relevant to this issue. Drawing on their own understandings of Jewish needs and values, many Jews are pro-gay while supporting conservative positions in Israeli or Canadian politics. The right/left binary doesn’t really apply.
May Winnipeg continue to become a safe and supportive home for all people.
Justin Jaron Lewis
Assistant Professor, Judaism
Department of Religion
University of Manitoba