Leadership

A Jewish Association’s Big Step Toward Diversity

In a move that could prove influential in the Jewish world, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association picked an openly gay leader—a first, according to the group.

When one national rabbinic association met last week, the group made history by picking its first openly gay leader. More details:

I am honored to be able to give back by supporting colleagues who are creating welcoming communities in hundreds of settings across North America and beyond.

The step taken: Last week, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association elected Rabbi Jason Klein as its new president during the group’s annual convention in New Orleans. Klein, who was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Council in 2002, currently leads Hillel at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Klein’s role is a board position, according to The Jewish Daily Forward; the group also has a staff executive director.

Why it’s a big deal: While many of the more liberal rabbinic seminaries have ordained gay rabbis over the years (with some of the more conservative seminaries recently following suit), it’s the first time such a leadership role has been taken by an openly gay rabbi. And while the Reconstructionist movement is still relatively new among non-Orthodox movements, it is one of the most influential in Judaism, the Forward reported.

The leader’s take: In a statement following his election, Klein described his groundbreaking role in the association like this, according to The Jewish Week: “Coming out and growing into my adult Jewish identity would not be the same were it not for affirming teachers, rabbis, and other mentors along the way. I am honored to be able to give back by supporting colleagues who are creating welcoming communities in hundreds of settings across North America and beyond.”

Rabbi Jason Klein (Facebook photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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