19 December 2016
Rabbi Lionel Blue OBE – who died in the early hours of this morning at the age of 86 – was a pioneering rabbi, teacher and mentor.
Rabbi Charley Baginsky, Liberal Judaism’s director of strategy and partnerships, was one of Lionel’s students and this morning joined many others, all around the world, in paying warm tribute to an incredible man.
Charley said: “One of Britain’s best known rabbis, Lionel entertained the nation for decades with media appearances, his most famous being as a regular on Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“On a personal level, as a lecturer at Progressive Judaism’s Leo Baeck College, Lionel was the archetypal rabbi’s rabbi – always there for us as individuals, helping us understand our own personal and spiritual journeys.
“And he leaves a legacy like few others. As the first British rabbi publicly to come out as gay, in the 1970s, Lionel paved the way for many others, including clergy of all faiths.
“His courage and pioneering spirit have created a more equal Judaism, and a more equal world. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. May his memory be a blessing.”
During his later years, Lionel played a key role in Rainbow Jews, the landmark LGBTQI+ oral history and archive project, hosted by Liberal Judaism.
Liberal Judaism’s LGBTQI+ project manager Surat-Shaan Knan said: “Rabbi Lionel Blue was such an inspiring, witty and kind person and it was so moving, and also exhilarating, to listen to his stories. He was a true pioneer and his legacy is surely to inspire generations to come.”
- Picture by Ajamu at fineartphotography, shot for the Through A Queer Lens exhibition at the Jewish Museum London