The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, during its annual meeting, on March 28, overwhelmingly approved an expansive resolution affirming the full inclusion, equality and welcoming of all transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals.
The resolution commits the RRA to work for “full inclusion, acceptance, appreciation, celebration and welcome of people of all gender identities in Jewish life and in society at large.” The document also “strongly advocates for the full equality of transgender, non-binary and gender non-confirming people and for equal protections for people of all gender identities under the law, at all levels of government, in North America and Israel.”
In keeping with the ethos of Reconstructionist Judaism, the resolution’s passage followed a democratic and deliberative process. Over the past year, representatives from Reconstructionist congregations, as well as the board of governors of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, approved similar resolutions. All of the central organizational bodies representing Reconstructionists have now raised their collective moral voice.
The RRA vote comes about a year and a half after the Union for Reform Judaism passed its Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People. The RRA is pleased to join the ranks of a growing number of Jewish religious and cultural institutions formally affirming transgender inclusion and establishing new policy guidelines.
The resolution aims to be a blueprint for action. Already, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College has graduated rabbis who identify as transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming. Individually, congregations have been taking steps toward the full inclusion of people of all gender identities. Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta, for example, is in the process of creating a fully inclusive chevra kadisha (burial society) that will ensure that Jews of all genders will have access to respectful and traditional rites throughout their entire lifecycle. Other congregations have been experimenting with methods of calling people up to Torah using non-binary and gender-neutral language.
Under the March resolution, efforts will be made to aggregate and share these innovations among the approximately 100 congregations and 350 rabbis of the Reconstructionist movement. In addition, the movement’s website for ritual resources, ritualwell.org, will be expanding its existing resources giving expression to all-gender-inclusive values.
The full resolution can be found at jewishrecon.org.