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132http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2013/01/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---02_01_2013
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 02_01_2013
01/31/2013 07:00 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
February 1, 2013

 

So, the Boy Scouts of America are changing their tune. This is monumental. It wasn’t so long ago that the BSA publicly and resoundingly rejected gay and lesbian scouts and den leaders. Many past Eagle Scouts returned their awards to protest the BSA’s discriminatory policies and to stand with gay and lesbian scouts. Now, the BSA is preparing a decision that would rock their formerly narrow views of who is a scout.

                While I support the BSA’s latest decision, I also hear from those who struggle with it. They’re not as ready as the BSA leadership to accommodate the GLBT community (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender). I would urge us all to see that it isn’t society leaning too far left or being too liberal that makes way for these decisions. The fact is that we can’t deny who we are, straight or gay; it’s not a choice, nor is it a politically motivated decision. Time-worn prohibitions that previously denied and punished human inclinations to be who we are created to be, are coming up for review, so to speak, and new guidelines and laws are finding acceptance in the 21st century.

                In Judaism, we recognize two things at once. First, that being straight or GLBT are not life-style choices; they are part of our DNA that leads us to be who we are meant to be. Second, we sometimes struggle to reconcile nature with standards we inherit through sacred teachings and social norms. Reform and Conservative Judaism have done well to recognize that sacred teachings, if they’re going to remain sacred, must speak to us in our time, too.

                At Beth Israel, The Boy Scouts of Troop 806 have had a home in our congregation for the last 30-plus years. Despite the BSA’s past threat to evict GLBT members from troop participation, Troop 806 pledged to maintain their relationship with BSA and maintain their commitment to Jewish values, too. In good Jewish fashion, they balanced two things at once. Their history as a troop reflected regular commitment to all the values of the Boy Scouts except for the one barring GLBT members. Their history also reflected regular commitment to Jewish values, namely, that every person is “created in God’s image” and “love your neighbor as yourself”. Remember that while “love your neighbor” originated in Torah (Leviticus 19:18), it is a golden rule in the Christian Bible, too. I’m sure it doesn’t say there, “…but, not that neighbor.”

                The combination of sacred teachings, changing social norms, and personal inclinations sometimes challenges us to see the wisdom in choices made by the BSA, the URJ (Union for Reform Judaism), the CCAR (Central Conference of America [Reform] Rabbis), the RA (Rabbinic Assembly [Conservative]), and every organization that strives to fulfill the purpose for which it was created and also survive over time. But, socially and religiously, we’ve long observed that evolution is part of human development and survival. Change doesn’t have to be bold, but it is inevitable. Humanity and the human spirit seek new levels wherein everyone has a chance to breathe the air of freedom and be fully human. I have faith that the Boy Scouts of America will be able to honor their convictions without compromise. What’s more, they will see that all boys have the potential to grow up to be men who, by virtue of their oath as scouts, will serve God and country with dignity and honor.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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