Mountain Minyan welcomes Rabbi Aaron Weininger for Gay Ski Week
If you were in Aspen this week, you likely saw a sea of rainbow flags piercing through layers of vibrant, white snow. You probably heard music and laughter and chatter of how great the skiing was.
It was the 46th annual Aspen Gay Ski Week, which included a long list of events — from Drag Bingo Brunch at the Hotel Jerome to the first openly-lesbian bishop coming to speak at Aspen Community Church.
To help cap off the momentous week, Aaron Weininger, an openly-gay Minneapolis-based rabbi, came to speak at the Aspen Community Church for Mountain Minyan’s Shabbat service.
According to Weininger, the service was open to those who are Jewish, Jewish-curious, and Jewish-adjacent — welcoming everyone to have a seat at the table to discuss divine compassion, honor God, build community, and celebrate Gay Ski Week.
“When we come together in community, which we’ll get to do tomorrow evening, showing up exactly as we are and learning from one another, praying together, eating together — because that’s very important in Jewish community — we begin to get on track to do lifelong work to create a world that we don’t yet see, but that we know is possible,” he told The Aspen Times the day before the Shabbat.
In 2007, Weininger made history by being the first openly-gay person admitted to rabbinical school in the conservative movement of Judaism, a denomination in Judaism that is not politically conservative, but is considered one of four major branches in contemporary Judaism, he said.
In 2006, the Committee of Jewish Law passed two divergent viewpoints on homosexuality: One that didn’t affirm the LGBTQ+ community, and one that allowed seminaries to change their admission policies to accept LGBTQ+ students, according to Weininger.
Following this historic yet polarizing moment in Jewish law, two U.S seminaries changed their admission policy to allow LGBTQ+ students to attend their theological schools.
While Weininger knew it would be challenging to be the first gay student admitted to the seminary in New York, he felt called to become a rabbi in his teenage years and knew the importance of representing the LGBTQ+ community in this space.
“My hope is, as more LGBTQ people are at the table, is that we’re not simply invited to the table, but that we are resetting the table and thinking about ways to push back on a binary,” he said.
This year, he’ll make history again, becoming the first openly-gay senior rabbi of the Adath Jeshurun Congregation in Minneapolis. This will be the first time the board of a conservative congregation has hired an openly-gay rabbi in a congregation of their size, he said.
“In many ways, my path to becoming a rabbi has been about orienting myself and orienting the community to catch up with God’s compassion and knowing it’s impossible to do so,” said Weininger. “I feel being in the LGBT community this week, we got to do that in a very special way. And, that Mountain Minyan creates a space where LGBTQ people can begin to imagine, not just for ourselves, but for the larger Jewish community, and, in some small way with the world, a way of creating space for religion that is affirming and beyond the binaries that exist.”
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