To: The Jewish Journal Editorial Board: Rob Eshman (Publisher, Editor in Chief), David Suissa (President), and Susan Freudenheim (Executive Editor)
Reject transphobic rhetoric; stand with Rabbi Silverstein
On December 2, 2015, the Jewish Journal ran a column written by Dennis Prager, which, in addition to broadly critiquing the validity of transgender people seeing themselves reflected in Torah, explicitly called out and derided a transgender rabbi serving a Southern California synagogue.
In calling on the leadership of the Jewish Journal to reject dangerous, transphobic rhetoric that seeks to destabilize and delegitimize the identity and work of transgender people - we hope to impress upon them that the personal attack on Rabbi Silverstein is unacceptable, and further, that its impact and intent is felt across lines of faith and tradition.
Why is this important?
As LGBTQI clergy, lay leaders, and allies in a diverse array of faith traditions, we are deeply troubled that Mr. Prager targeted this rabbi, and are alarmed by the attitude of condescension, dismissal, and transphobia that saturates his rhetoric. Beyond that, we find his self-assuredness that compassion is somehow antithetical to the study and interpretation of sacred texts to be unacceptable, and furthermore, dangerous.
In this time when unholy acts are being committed around the globe in the name of religion, with the misappropriation of holy texts as justification, we need for than ever for faith leaders to understand and interpret scripture through a lens of compassion and mercy.
We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Rabbi Silverstein, his work, and the work of countless other LGBTQI clergy across faith traditions who continue to thoughtfully engage their communities and sacred texts even in the face of those that seek to discredit and silence them.