Rabbi Laurie Eichenbaum Green has lived in a lot of interesting places.
At various times over the course of her adult life, she’s lived in Philadelphia, Washington, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York City a couple different times, as well as Basalt, Colo. She’s been in Buffalo, N.Y., since 2010 and is moving this week to Baltimore where she’ll be based while serving as the new Rabbi at Bet Mishpachah, D.C.’s LGBT Jewish congregation.
She’s being officially welcomed this evening with a festive Erev Shabbat. Visit betmish.org for details.
Green says most of her moving around was for various studies and ministerial posts. Prior to entering rabbinical school when she was 24, she had a brief career working on Capitol Hill. Bet Mishpachah will be her third congregation and she says it was “just the perfect fit. Everything about it clicked, religiously, spiritually, everything.”
Green is a 35-year-old Aberdeen, N.J., native and has been with her partner, Mira Green, for eight-and-a-half years. Their son, Gus, is 4. She enjoys yoga, reading, dance, theater, hiking and TV in her free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Nineteen years. My parents were hardest to tell. I told them when I was 16. It was a long haul, but I have amazing, loving parents.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Hard choice but I’ll say Emma Goldman, the bisexual Jewish activist and feminist despite our many differences.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
When I was here before I went to a few women’s clubs but I can’t remember names. I was never really big on the bar scene. Now I’m old and boring, by which I mean married, parenting and in shul (synagogue) on Friday nights.
Describe your dream wedding.
The one I had on Aug. 20, 2006, when I married my beautiful wife, who is still the love of my life.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
My biggest general issue is economic justice in all its forms. My top Jewish issue is Progressive Zionism, which I guess is just the Jewish manifestation of all my issues together (economic justice, gender, sexuality, interfaith relations, Jewish peoplehood, war and peace, etc.). I’m a fan of consistency.
What historical outcome would you change?
The recent Supreme Court ruling gutting the Civil Rights Act. Just disgusting! And while we’re on the subject of racism, I think George Zimmerman should be in jail.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I remember when Melissa Etheridge came out. It gave me hope. I figured if she could do it, I could too.
On what do you insist?
Dignity for all human beings. So basic, yet so uncommon.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I’ve never Tweeted and I Facebook only on my birthday to reply to birthday messages. I know I’m too young to be anti-social media, but I like old-fashioned face-to-face relationships. My wife does enough social media for us both and keeps me up to date. So I really only do social media for work, which I’m perfectly happy to do. I have to appear cool after all.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Between Two Worlds” because being LGBT and religious is always a straddle and a balancing act, though it’s gotten much better. I am so grateful to my congregants at Bet Mishpachah and to everyone who made it possible for me to come out in high and actually get more religious. I hope I can make that common for future generations of LGBT kids.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Give it no thought whatsoever.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I believe that something caused the Big Bang and I call that God. I believe that something is the source of all goodness in a broken world and I call that God. I believe that something sees us through what we couldn’t possibly handle on our own and I call that God. I believe that something makes transformation possible, makes healing possible, makes love possible, and I call that God. I believe that something gives us the will and the hope to change the world as it is into the world as it should be, and I call that God.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Make allies with everyone — you never know when Ted Olsen might take on your case.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My son and my wife.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That we’re all wealthy. For starters, obviously you have to be able to feed yourself to be out, duh. Plus, you know the whole women-make-81-cents-on-the-dollar-times-two phenomenon. Please.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love” or “Fire.” I can’t choose.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Putting your napkin on your lap. I’ve actually seen people do this at fast-food joints, which is just ridiculous.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I wouldn’t mind a Nobel Peace Price but then I shouldn’t have become a parent or a congregational rabbi. Oh well.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
You can’t love anyone (human or divine) until you love yourself.
Because it’s Washington. It has everything. New York and L.A. are amazing, but only D.C. has 10 protests a day and amazing free museums. Plus I don’t get as smushed on the Red Line as I did on the E train.