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LGBTQ+ Rabbis Come to Europe

Brian Doyle-Du Breuil is a soon-to-graduate rabbinical student of Abraham Geiger College at the University of Potsdam in Germany. He’s also gay – part of a growing trend of LGBTQ+ rabbis in Europe.

“There are LGBT rabbis pretty much everywhere in Europe, some leading congregations, others involved in education or Jewish social justice projects,” says Doyle-Du Breuil. “Just as society has evolved, so have Jews.”

Not too long ago, the mere idea of a gay rabbi seemed an oxymoron. At best, gay rabbinical students and rabbis hid their personal lives. Attitudes are changing, first among Progressive Jews, but also in  the Orthodox world.  

Doyle-Du Breuil was born in Scotland and moved to Belgium in 1987 to study, winning tenure at the University of Leuven as Professor of the Hebrew Bible. He started the process of conversion to Judaism as a teenager and completed it as an adult with the International Jewish Centre of Brussels, where he was later asked to be a rabbi while still studying.

“When I applied to Abraham Geiger College, they welcomed me and other LGBT candidates with extreme openness and welcome,” he recalls. “Gender equality is a key pillar of the college’s profile.” He hopes to graduate from the University of Potsdam in September and will officially become the full-time rabbi of the International Jewish Centre of Brussels at the end of the year. 

Doyle-Du Breuil is looking forward to participating in the European Union of Progressive Judaism’s first Pride Shabbat on July 3 – to register or contribute, contact administrator@eupj.org.

“Judaism inspires us to help repair the world wherever we find it broken. That includes the world of relationships. Covid has isolated us from one another for too long and our societies are stressed, so there’s some repairing to do.”

Photo © Tobias Barniske