“I hoped I could reach out to peo­ple.”

Glamour (South Africa) - - Real Life -

Rabbi Elianna Yolkut, 39, wanted to be a dif­fer­ent kind of Jew than her fam­ily. “I was raised as an or­tho­dox Jew, which peo­ple think of as strict, but re­li­gion never felt like an im­po­si­tion. Oc­ca­sion­ally I felt I was miss­ing out – I couldn’t go out on Fri­days be­cause of the Sab­bath – but I never ques­tioned it. But by 23, it be­gan to feel lim­it­ing; it didn’t ad­dress how I saw my­self and be­lieved the To­rah should ap­ply in our world. I wanted to be part of a faith that em­braced change while hon­our­ing tra­di­tion, so I be­came a con­ser­va­tive Jew: a path that felt more au­then­tic to the To­rah I grew up with, one of kind­ness and com­pas­sion. It wreaked emo­tional havoc, and I lost friends.

“Around that time, I came out as a les­bian. I stayed clos­eted dur­ing my first job as a rabbi be­cause there was a pro­hi­bi­tion against gay and les­bian rab­bis. That stric­ture has since been lifted, so I’ve seen first­hand how a syn­a­gogue can in­no­vate and main­tain tra­di­tion. It’s one of the rea­sons I de­cided to be­come a rabbi: I hoped I could help shape some­thing dif­fer­ent and to reach out to peo­ple who might feel placed on the mar­gins – to help them feel ac­cepted and loved.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.