Student Rabbi Lev is now officially a Rabbi and we all wish him a massive MAZEL TOV! His ordination took place on Sunday 3rd July 2022.
Please find his ordination address below, or please click here to watch the video.
"The most commonly asked question I’ve had while training to be a rabbi is “why?”
And I always tell them the same thing.
I was sitting in synagogue one Shabbat morning, when a great beam of light came in through the sanctuary window, the heavens opened, and a great booming voice said: “Lev! Apply to Leo Baeck College!”
Of course, that didn’t happen. And it doesn’t take people long to realise I’m joking.
Rabbis don’t get called on by God. In fact, the rabbis of the Talmud were pretty suspicious of any purported voices from heaven.
Today, I will share with you the real reason I wanted to be a rabbi. During my twenties, I began to wonder what happened to gay men over 30. I knew so few.
At the same time, I saw some friends, in different ways, destroy themselves. They were all queer.
And I didn’t need to ask why. I understood how living in a homophobic and transphobic society could make them believe that the world didn’t want them.
I had grown up in that world too, often experiencing homophobic violence.
But I had one thing that differentiated me from some of my friends who didn’t think they belonged in this world.
I never had to doubt that I had a family, a community, and a God who loved me.
I grew up in a synagogue that accepted and embraced me as a gay and gender non-conforming child.
I knew, too, that were gay rabbis out there. At least two. Over decades, pioneers had fought for a Judaism that would benefit people they would never know. That would shamelessly embrace difference. That would speak out for social justice against conformity.
And I wondered if, perhaps, I could pass on something similar. That others might grow up with a God and a community and a religion that loved them. That, if they did, perhaps they wouldn’t destroy themselves.
So, in that sense, I feel like I was called.
Called upon by future queer kids, asking, will you make space for us?
Called upon by past generations of Jews, many lost to the centuries, saying, we brought this Judaism this far. We nurtured inclusive Judaism for you to inherit it. Will you keep it alive for us now?
Called upon by those that didn’t make it, asking, will there be communities that can love us, too?
And yes. Called upon by a loving God. The voice of justice. The moral force of the universe that will always stand with the oppressed.
The outstretched hand that brought us out from Egypt so that we might spread a prophetic message of equality and justice throughout the world.
That voice doesn’t come as a booming sound from the heavens. It is a still, small voice. It is a gentle murmur, calling us to do right, urging us to rectify iniquity, offering hope.
Such a voice can only be heard if there are people to amplify it. To those who have kept it reverberating throughout the ages – thank you.
It is calling us all.
May we merit to answer.