The organization that represents 900 American synagogues in the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest branch of Judaism in the United States, passed a historic resolution on transgender rights Thursday at the movement’s biennial conference in Orlando, Florida. It is the most comprehensive and extensive set of guidelines for transgender rights adopted by any major religious organization.
Some 5,000 reform Jews attended the Union for Reform Judaism biennial meeting where they approved the resolution that calls for Jewish congregations and camps to institute gender-neutral bathrooms, gender-neutral language, and arrange gender issues training for teachers and staff at religious schools. The resolution passed on a voice vote without opposition, and applause followed the the results of the vote.
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"Your reaction in this room shows what this movement is about. It makes me very proud," Stephen Sacks, chairman of the Union for Reform Judaism's board, told the crowd.
While other religious organizations, like the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ, have previously adopted resolutions in support of transgender rights, the Reform Jewish resolution is the most far-reaching to date.
The Union for Reform Judaism will offer congregations around the country a pamphlet with guidelines on how to adopt the goals in the resolution. Suggestions include skipping gender-specific titles such as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” in nametags or emails, asking congregants about which pronoun should be used when addressing them, and organizing children in youth programs by birth month rather than gender, the Associated Press reported. But it’s up to individual congregations to take the steps -- the resolution does not require them to do anything.
The Reform Jewish Movement represents 35 percent of the 5.3 million Jews in the United States, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey.