On December 2nd, Dennis Prager wrote in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal a scathing attack on transgender Jews generally and on a specific rabbi in particular who is transgender and serves his congregation with passion, kindness, dignity, and purpose. (http://www.jewishjournal.com/dennis_prager/article/the_torah_and_the_transgendered)
In response, many Los Angeles rabbis have written critical letters of Mr. Prager’s op-ed calling into question his very narrow view of Torah.
The following represents one such letter written by my colleague, Rabbi Jocee Hudson, and signed by all three rabbis at my congregation, Temple Israel of Hollywood.
To the Editor of the LA Jewish Journal:
In our Jewish community, Torah stands at the center of our lives and our beliefs. For us, Torah is a living, breathing Text. Torah imbues our lives with meaning and purpose. When we wrestle with Torah, we do so with a sense of kavod (respect).
Our community is diverse. We are Jews by birth and Jews by choice. We are interfaith families. We are individuals and couples. We are gay and straight, cisgender and transgender.
Dennis Prager’s post on December 2 makes a number of assumptions about our community (and other communities). We reject his assumptions and reject the narrow definition of Torah he thrusts upon us. Indeed, his words reflect a narrow-mindedness and bigotry far from our hearts and beliefs. Our biggest fear in reading his column is that an individual may come to think that his words define who the Jewish community is and what we believe. This could not be further from the truth.
For us, Torah is an expansive and inclusive Text. Transgender and cisgender members of our community, alike, are created by God and have a home and place in our congregation. We are far from unique in this. Indeed, we stand in gratitude and solidarity with the Union for Reform Judaism’s recent resolution in support of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People. Thank God for today’s Jewish community that embraces a diverse and expansive definition of who can belong. This is the Torah and community we hold central and dear.
John Rosove, Senior Rabbi – Temple Israel of Hollywood
Michelle Missaghieh, Associate Rabbi – Temple Israel of Hollywood
Jocee Hudson, Rabbi Educator – Temple Israel of Hollywood
Dear Rabbis——BRAVO! Florene Rozen >
Monica Rosenthal said:
Dennis Prager’s words are an insult to Judaism and to humanity. They go against everything I have learned by embracing Judaism and studying Torah. I am proud to be associated with Temple Israel of Hollywood.
Geraldine Mund said:
Well said. While there are those Jews who believe what Prager says, they are not (and should not be) put forth by the Jewish Journal as spokespeople for the community. Narrowmindedness is harmful and hateful. And he is even wrong in the “proof text” that he uses. I have checked with those who are better educated in the Torah itself than I am and while Torah prohibits a male from dressing as a female, it does not even mention a female dressing as a male. So if he wants to literally apply the Torah prohibition, his example (a female identifying as a male) is irrelevant.
David B. Katz said: