In 2006, Rabbi Elliot Kukla etched his name as the first openly transgender person to be ordained by a mainstream denomination – the Reform Seminary at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. Now he wants other trans and non-binary youth to find their spiritual connection.
A Convergence of Faith and Identity
A pioneer in his own right, Kukla’s remarkable journey has become an inspiration for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly the trans and non-binary youth.
Kukla’s path to ordination was a convergence of faith and identity. He chose a pivotal moment, a few months before his ordination, to come out as transgender.
He said, “Those two truths were fully connected for me; the spiritual wholeness of being trans was very connected for me to being a rabbi.”
His rabbinic study delved into the ‘tumtum’ and the ‘androgynous’, non-binary characters in ancient Jewish texts, reflecting his profound connection to a tradition that has, for centuries, acknowledged identities beyond the binary.
Jewish Holy Texts Are Beyond Male and Female
He said, “I had been studying them for many years and looking at all of the different references in Jewish holy texts to characters who are beyond male and female.”
He asserts, “It always felt right” to come into his identity, highlighting the intrinsic joy and spiritual truths that resonated with his trans identity.
But, the journey was not without its challenges. Kukla was told he would never find work as a rabbi due to his identity.
However, the passage of time has witnessed a monumental shift, with Kukla now receiving inquiries from rabbis worldwide seeking guidance on celebrating non-binary b’nei mitzvah ceremonies.
Feel Their Own Spiritual Acceptance
Despite the growing acceptance within the Jewish community, broader society has experienced a disheartening backlash against trans and queer identities.
Amidst this turmoil, Rabbi Kukla wants other Trans and non-binary youth to feel their own spiritual acceptance.
He said, “I have this resource to support younger people in being exactly who they are – even if I don’t recognize or understand who they are.”
“In a world where Trans kids are under attack, I’m surrounded by so many trans kids who are living this life that I couldn’t have imagined growing up as a closeted trans kid, who are able to just really be themselves from the beginning – which is just a mind-blowing thing to imagine,” he added.
“Trans Rabbis Are Queering up Judaism”
Several social media users expressed their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “The trans rabbi’s efforts are inspiring, demonstrating a commitment to inclusivity, joy, and spiritual connection for everyone, regardless of gender identity.”
Another user commented, “Trans rabbis are queering up Judaism.”
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / wavebreakmedia. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.
Source: The Pink News