The office of rabbi is the most visible symbol of power and prestige in Jewish communities. Rabbis both interpret to their congregations the requirements of Jewish life and instruct congregants in how best to live this life.
Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation documents a monumental change in Jewish life as eighteen lesbian rabbis reflect on their experiences as trailblazers in Judaism's journey into an increasingly multicultural world. In frank and revealing essays, the contributors discuss their decisions to become rabbis and describe their experiences both at the seminaries and in their rabbinical positions. They also reflect on the dilemma whether to conceal or reveal their sexual identities to their congregants and superiors, or to serve specifically gay and lesbian congregations. The contributors consider the tensions between lesbian identity and Jewish identity, and inquire whether there are particularly "lesbian" readings of traditional texts. These essays also ask how the language of Jewish tradition touches the lives of lesbians and how lesbianism challenges traditional notions of the Jewish family.
"'Today I am completely 'out' personally and professionally, and yet I have learned that the 'coming out' process never ends. Even today, I find myself in professional situations in which yet again I must reveal that I am a lesbian, yet again I must prove myself worthy of functioning professionally in the 'straight' world. I still encounter moments of awkwardness, some hostility, and some sense of exclusion as I negotiate the pathways of my professional life."-Rabbi Leila Gal Berner, from Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation