Dr. Joel L. Kushner Participates in the National Religious Leadership Roundtable in Puerto Rico

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dr. Joel L. Kushner, Director of the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation at HUC-JIR and a member of the steering committee of the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, was one of two spokespeople from Roundtable at a press conference on May 13 in Puerto Rico, where an elected official recanted a previous vote against same-sex marriage and spoke out for the first time in support of marriage equality.  Luis E. Farinacci Morales labeled his previous vote a mistake and called for equality for all under the constitution.

Dr. Kushner stood with national LGBT and allied faith leaders from more than a dozen Protestant, Catholic and Jewish traditions, as they spoke out in the shadow of the brutal murder and decapitation of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, whose killer was sentenced to 99 years in prison the day before the press conference. 

Dr. Kushner said, “I long for the day when the headlines will be about graduations and weddings instead of murders and sentencing.”

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable met from May 12-14 outside of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to build skills to function at the intersections of issues related to race, orientation, economics, religion, gender identity, age, ability, etc., so that differences become opportunities to build bridges rather than become obstacles.  These leaders also held a historic meeting with five progressive congregations in Puerto Rico who are opening their doors to LGBT people in the face of significant discrimination and hatred.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu