Newsweek’s list of 50 top rabbis includes gays, Dallasites

Posted on 29 Jun 2010 at 2:01pm
Rabbi Steve Gutow
Rabbi Steve Gutow

Newsweek released its list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America for 2010 with some interesting characters on the list. A surprising number of gay and lesbian rabbis make the list, and a couple of the rabbis are from Dallas.

Rabbi Steve Gutow is listed at No. 20 for a second year. Gutow, originally a Dallas attorney, worked in Gov. Ann Richards’ administration and went to rabbinical school after she left office. Since then, he has conducted services at Dallas LGBTA Congregation Beth El Binah a number of times and is currently president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

No. 47 on the list is Rabbi David Stern, the head rabbi at Temple Emanu-el on Northwest Highway in Dallas who has come under criticism by some members of his congregation for one particular position.

Stern will not do interfaith weddings and is clear about that position, but members of his congregation often ask him to perform them anyway. A same-sex wedding he performed at the temple in the early 1990s is often thrown in his face when he refuses to do interfaith opposite-sex marriages.

“But you married those two damn lesbians,” people tell him.

“Yes, and they were both Jewish,” he tells them.

Stern is straight.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum takes the No. 25 position. Her New York City congregation, Beit Simchat Torah, is the largest LGBTA synagogue. For High Holidays, they rent out the Jacob Javitz Convention Center in Manhattan to hold services.

Rabbi Elliot Dorff is No. 43. He contributed to the book “Torah Queeries,” which provides an LGBT perspective on the first five books of the Bible and has written on medical ethics for gays and lesbians. He made the list because he chairs the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for Conservative Judaism, which has become much more liberal under his guidance.

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