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Interfaith, Intercultural, & LGBTQ+ Inclusive

Our motto, “Doing Jewish Differently,” applies to our history of full inclusion. We celebrate Jewish life with our true selves in all our diversity. 

As secular, cultural, and Humanistic Jews, we are genuinely inclusive:

  • We embrace the reality of intercultural and interfaith marriage by fully celebrating everyone’s life partner and their entire family. Children of intercultural/interfaith families can be both Jewish and something else, rather than either/or. And all family members are welcome to fully participate in all Kol Hadash programs and services, from B Mitzvah to serving on our Steering Committee. 
  • Humanistic Judaism has always actively welcomed and included LGBTQ+ individuals and families since its founding in the 1960s, firmly believing that everyone should affirm and celebrate who they are. Rabbi Chalom has officiated at commitment ceremonies and same-sex weddings for over 20 years; even our Sunday School model wedding is often with two grooms or two brides!
  • We recognize that Jewish identity is not confined to the old denominations of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. We provide a comfortable home for those who identify as: Culturally Jewish, Just Jewish, Jew-ish, Jewish and . . . , Half-Jewish, Jews by Choice, Multicultural, Not Religious, Secular, Humanistic, Atheist, and/or Agnostic.
  • We celebrate the Jewish pluralism of individual choice, recognizing that there is no one right way to “Do Jewish.” For example, some of our members choose not to fast on Yom Kippur, some choose to fast out of tradition, and others choose to fast as an expression of solidarity with the hungry. Some intercultural/interfaith families celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas separately, others combine the two with Jewish stars on Christmas trees, and still others choose one home celebration while celebrating the other holiday with extended family. Kol Hadash is a welcoming Jewish home that empowers all families to make their own choices.


1. Will my LGBTQ+ child feel safe and welcomed in your Sunday School?
Yes! Our Sunday School has partnered with Keshet, a national organization that works for the full equality of all LGBTQ+ Jews and their families, to ensure that we are doing everything we can to support our LGBTQ+ students and families. Our Mitzvah program is called “B Mitzvah” to be gender-inclusive. A gender-neutral bathroom is available at our Sunday School, our teachers and curricula are enthusiastically inclusive, and our LGBTQ+ member families are visible and active in the  congregation. You can read more about our work with Keshet in this Windy City Times article.

2. Can my spouse who is not Jewish fully participate?
Absolutely! We want everyone, regardless of religious identity or background, to participate fully in all aspects of congregational life, including read from the bima (stage), participate in their children’s B Mitzvah service, teach Sunday school, and serve in a leadership position. We make no distinction among members.

3. How do you feel about members who celebrate Christmas and other non-Jewish religious holidays?
Humanistic Judaism has always celebrated interfaith and intercultural partnerships and families, and we encourage everyone to be true to themselves. We accept that being Jewish might be only one part of a family’s cultural heritage, and choosing which holidays to celebrate does not need to be an “either/or” decision – families are encouraged to embrace all of their family traditions.

4. Will your Rabbi officiate at intercultural, interfaith, and LGBTQ+ weddings?
Yes! Our rabbi has always been happy to marry intercultural/interfaith/LGBTQ+ couples, co-officiate with other clergy, conduct wedding ceremonies anytime on Saturdays, and create personalized ceremonies for the wedding couple. And he has done so for almost 25 years.

5. What does Kol Hadash do for LGBTQ+ Inclusion?
Part of our work with Keshet (see above) involved reviewing and updating our website, forms, and procedures to be a more inclusive community, from pictures to language. Kol Hadash has celebrated a Pride Shabbat every June for the last several years. We also walk in the Buffalo Grove suburban Pride Parade, regularly discuss issues affecting the LGBTQ+, and offer opportunities for public action through Jews for a Secular Democracy, an initiative of our national umbrella organization the Society for Humanistic Judaism.

Hear Rabbi Chalom discuss LGBTQ Issues in Jewish Life from June 2021

Tue, July 16 2024 10 Tammuz 5784