Essays & Speeches

Covenant Award Speech (2016)

covenant-logoBecause, at the end of the day, what turned out to be much more significant than the fact that I’d snuck into rabbinical school as a queer person, was the fact that I’d snuck into rabbinical school with only my alef-bet. And so I knew that if I could do it, they could do it, too. Full Text. PDF.

Saying No in the Name of a Higher Yes (2001)

images“Three days before ordination, the dean called me into his office at 9:00 p.m. and told me that an anonymous caller had phoned the Seminary to inform them that I was a lesbian. He said that if I told him it was true, I would not be ordained. What do you have to say? he demanded.” Full textPDF.

Find Your Queer (2013)

“I would like to suggest that you cannot be fully human until you have found your queer.” Full Text. PDF.


Educating Rabbis to be Traditional Radicals Once Again (2003)

Shma_main_logo_header“I am convinced that they intended their record of this process – the Talmud – to be not so much a compendium of laws to follow as a blueprint for how to change those laws in authentically Jewish ways when necessary.” Full TextPDF.

Postscript for Torah Queeries (2009)

Torah Queeries cover“Queer people (along with women, the Deaf, the disabled, people of color, among many others) have important—essential–things to say about what life is really like that the Tradition needs to hear.” Full TextPDF.

Letter to Schechter (2002)

Unknown-1In 2002,  Rabbi Lappe was offered a position teaching at a Conservative day school. The offer was rescinded on the grounds that Rabbi Lappe is a lesbian and her being on the faculty of Schechter presented “an issue of role modeling.”

“You claim that my presence on the Schechter faculty presents “an issue of role modeling.” Either your concern is that a) my heterosexual students will be influenced to become gay, b) my gay students will be influenced to remain gay, or c) all of my students may be influenced to see that gay and lesbian people can have healthy, happy, respectable—and Jewish—lives.” Full TextPDF.

Keshet Speech (2003)

UnknownThis is a speech Rabbi Lappe was asked to deliver for the JTS Day of Learning back in 2003, organized by the gay-students-and-gay-allies group at JTS, called Keshet. Rabbi Lappe couldn’t deliver the speech in person, but it was read out loud in absentia.

“In fact, it is quite fitting that we come together today for this Day of Learning precisely on the day the rabbis of the Law Committee meet, and on the eve of their official decision to reopen the question of the halachic status of gay and lesbian Jews in the Conservative Movement—or, more simply put, on the eve of the Law Committee’s deliberations to determine if, in their svara, it is God’s will that I—and hundreds of thousands of queer Jews like myself—should be understood to be deserving of the status of full and equal human beings.” Full TextPDF.

I Don’t Go to Shul on Shabbos (1999)

clal_logo“On Shabbos I learn Talmud. My chevruta (study partner), Andy, comes over at 11:15 every shabbos morning and we learn all day. Talmud is my greatest joy. And learning Talmud on shabbos is a pleasure nearly impossible to describe. But I’ll give it a shot.” Full TextPDF.

Roll Up Your Sleeves, Get Out the Flour, The Seder is Starting! (2012)

“How did we get so far from the intended experience in so short a time? How did we give up our sense of authenticity to those who mass-produce ‘real’ matzo? When did we come to believe those who showed us how matzo was made but then insisted, ‘Don’t try this at home!'” Full TextPDF.

Does A Child Who Has Been Sexually Abused By A Parent Have The Obligation To Say Kaddish For That Parent?: A Teshuva (1993)