Queer History Month Spotlight: Rabbi Lisa Grushcow

Since 2018, McGill’s Queer History Month has aimed to shed light on the stories and social contributions of 2SLGBTQIA+ people (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual, with + standing for other ways individuals express their gender and sexuality outside heteronormativity and the gender binary). Throughout the month of October, McGill’s Equity Office is hosting numerous online events for the entire McGill community, and MORSL is supporting this initiative by highlighting the journeys of queer people of faith in various religious traditions.

Our first article spotlight for Queer History Month features Rabbi Lisa Grushcow. Rabbi Grushcow is truly a trailblazer. Not only is she the first openly gay rabbi of a major Canadian synagogue, but she’s also the author of Writing the Wayward Wife: Rabbinic Interpretations of Sotah, and the editor of The Sacred Encounter: Jewish Perspectives on Sexuality. A McGill graduate, she attended Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar.

Rabbi Grushcow intended to continue on to a Conservative rabbinical seminary, yet she faced a difficult choice when she came out. In her words, "I needed to make a decision, because I'd been accepted into the seminary for a movement that wouldn't ordain me as an out lesbian." She ultimately opted to join the Reform movement in Judaism, which would allow her to be both out and ordained. She has been married, divorced, and is happily remarried and the mother of three kids, ranging in age from one to sixteen.

Rabbi Grushcow has been serving as Senior Rabbi at Montreal’s own Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom since 2012, where she uses her experiences to better connect with congregants. Additionally, she was profiled in the New York Times in July 2019.

Here is what Rabbi Grushcow wants McGill students to know:

“So many LGBTQ+ people have had negative experiences with religion. But religion asks timeless questions, offers meaningful rituals, and lets us add our modern voices to an ancient conversation. Religion would be poorer without queer voices, and our lives are poorer without access to religion. It’s possible to bring these worlds together.”


Did you know that there’s a local student/young adult group for queer people in the Jewish community? Visit the JQueer FB page or jqueermtl [at] gmail.com (email )the group to learn more.


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