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WATCH: Largest Jewish Group in North America Embraces Transgender Congregants

WATCH: Largest Jewish Group in North America Embraces Transgender Congregants

AP PHOTO

The Union for Reform Judaism set new rules for synagogues to welcome transgender members.

A historic new policy to embrace transgender people and to campaign against discrimination by the biggest Jewish organization in North America won a standing ovation from delegates meeting in Orlando, Fla., reports The Guardian.

"We applaud this historic resolution," said Catherine Bell of Keshet, a grassroots LGBT Jewish campaign group, calling it "a far-reaching statement from the largest Jewish denomination in North America."

"It's both extremely significant and a natural evolution of who we are," said Barbara Weinstein of the Washington-based Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism.

The biennial conference of the Union for Reform Judaism overwhelmingly adopted a motion Thursday detailing specific steps for synagogues, temples, and congregations, including educational practices as well as gender-neutral language and restrooms.

The Union for Reform Judaism lists approximately 1.5 million Jews in North America as members.

"We're very proud of taking this step and know it has great meaning for our congregations," Weinstein added, noting this new policy by the Reform movement is in line with its existing practice regarding lesbian and gay congregants.

The text of the motion adopted Thursday states:

"North American culture and society have, in general, become increasingly accepting of people who are gay, lesbian and bisexual -- yet too often transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are forced to live as second-class citizens.

"Transgender people face legal and cultural bigotry, hate crimes and harassment, and discrimination in employment, healthcare and housing.

"Reform Judaism congregations should advocate for the rights of transgender people. But congregations should also create inclusive and welcoming communities by training staff, organizing education programs, delivering sermons on gender identity, reviewing use of language in prayers, forms and policies, and providing gender-neutral facilities.

"The use of gendered titles and honorifics, such as "Mr", "Mrs" and "Ms" should be avoided, and congregants should be asked in private for their preferred pronouns. Children should be grouped not according to gender, but by birth months or seasons. Synagogues should invite transgender speakers to address congregations."

Read more about the motion here, and watch a video of the adoption from the Union for Reform Judaism below.

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