Well here’s a small quandary. There is an amazing effort that is being produced by Keshet called “Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives.” Keshet is a Boston-based national effort to bring full inclusion to LGBQT people in Jewish life. Many, many organizations and thousands of individuals have signed on. I support it wholeheartedly except for one very, very small thing. See if you can spot it:
As members of a tradition that sees each person as created in the divine image, we respond with anguish and outrage at the spate of suicides brought on by homophobic bullying and intolerance. We hereby commit to ending homophobic bullying or harassment of any kind in our synagogues, schools, organizations, and communities. As a signatory, I pledge to speak out when I witness anyone being demeaned for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. I commit myself to do whatever I can to ensure that each and every person in my community is treated with dignity and respect.
If you said it was the language of “created in the divine image,” then you have been reading my blog.
Most Jews just throw those words around without giving them much thought. This idea of being “created in the divine image” is actually not the strongest argument Jews have for making such a pledge. A better reason is the Jewish historical experience. As an oft-despised people that has suffered horribly from antisemitism, we are doubly obligated to prevent that from happening to any other human beings.
Will I sign it? Of course I will. The preamble here is the meaningless part of the pledge. What’s important is the commitment to end homophobic behavior and speak out against it. Rabbi Wine taught that one of the best ways to judge whether an act is moral is by whether it engenders respect for the dignity of individuals. That’s the important part of this pledge.