First Openly Gay British Rabbi Dies

Tributes made to Lionel Blue, a pioneering rabbi, teacher and mentor who led the way for LGBT people in faith communities.

Britain’s first openly gay rabbis, Lionel Blue, has died aged 86. Rabbi Blue shot to fame on BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day, and stunned listeners when he announced he was gay.

The 86-year-old, described as “God’s best PR man in Britain”, had been unwell, according to Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain.

He said: “For several decades Lionel Blue became the indispensable Monday-morning wake-up call for millions in Britain, mixing religious insights with honesty and humour.

“He never pretended that life was easy, or that religion solved everything; instead, he shared his own failings and foibles, and showed how to get through the rest of the day.

“Through the popularity of his broadcasts and book, he made rabbis more human, Judaism more understandable, and faith in general more user-friendly.

“It was a tribute to the way he bridged religious differences that it was often quipped that Rabbi Blue would have been a wonderful choice as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

“Without doubt, Lionel Blue was God’s best PR man in Britain.”

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi to Reform Judaism, said: “Rabbi Lionel, as a teacher, writer and much-loved national broadcaster, transformed how Britain viewed Jews, Judaism and, most importantly, ourselves. May his memory be a blessing.”

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