So sad to hear hat Lionel Blue has passed away aged 86. He made people more open and less fearful of their sexuality. Taught us to ignore the haters, Lionel Blue, was the UK’s first openly gay rabbi who appeared on BBC Radio 4 for 30 years during the Today show’s Thought for the Day segment, died yesterday morning.
Lionel Blue was born in London's East End on 6 January 1930, the son of a master tailor of Russian descent.He was evacuated to a variety of places during the war and later went to grammar school in north London and then to Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained a degree in history.He abandoned an early interest in theology for communism after hearing horrific stories from fellow Jews who had fled Hitler's persecution.While at university, the realisation that he was homosexual drove him to a nervous breakdown, during which he tried to take his own life. He became attached to the idea of becoming an Anglican monk but rediscovered his own faith at a service in 1950.After much agonising , he decided to become a rabbi, promptinge his mother to remark hat she had spent all her time trying to ge him out of the ghetto and he was now jumping back in.
Rabbi Lionel Blue was different, he was not a proselytiser for his own religion, or even for religion in general, he talked about his doubts and failures with warmth, humanity and gentle, self-deprecating humour. He said, more than once, that his only aim when he broadcast, was to make life more bearable for people getting out of bed on a Monday morning and facing the everyday worries and problems of life, am glad that he for me managed to achieve this aim.Thank you Lionel Blue for sharing his humour, honesty and wisdom and his simple gentle home-spun faith who at last managed to take the pompousness out of religious broadcasting.
The London synagoge Beit Klal Yisrael announced Blue’s death on Facebook yesterday:
"It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Rabbi Lionel Blue OBE, who died in the early hours of this morning.
Lionel was a wonderful & inspirational man, who spoke with such wisdom and humour and whose words reached out far beyond the Jewish Community.He was a friend and mentor to many and his courage in coming out as gay in the 1970s paved the way for many other Jews, including many Rabbis.
As part of Rainbow Jews he was interviewed about his life, the interview and a transcript can be found at: http://
www.rainbowjews.com/ rabbi-lionel-blue-a-pioneer -and-legend/
We will not see his like again. May his memory be for a blessing."