Rabbi Krichiver’s testimony to the Senate Education Committee in opposition of HB 1041

Thank you Mr. Chair and members of the committee for your time today. My name is Rabbi Brett Krichiver. I am the Senior Rabbi of Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, a board member of the Indiana Board of Rabbis, a participating member of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, Faith in Indiana, and many other interfaith and multi-faith groups.

Undoubtedly there are religious leaders on both sides of this bill, I know you have heard from many. I represent the largest Jewish community in our state and the largest denomination in our country, not to mention a strong network of Jewish Hoosier clergy stretching from Illinois to Kentucky, representing thousands upon thousands of congregants and voters.  And it is critical that you understand our religious conviction that this bill does not represent any recognizable religious teachings, especially not those of the Jewish community.

Many of us share the religious teaching that all of humanity was created in the image of God. The sages of old meant for us to feel this concept not only as an acknowledgment but as a command, an imperative to overcome the many blinders that keep us from recognizing the Divine in every one of us. Gender diversity is real, has always been real, and deserves to be recognized as the strong part of human identity which it is. The great concern of the Jewish community about House Bill 1041, is that is represents a deliberate effort to reject an entire group’s gender identity without understanding, without recognizing in each of them, a fully formed and healthy human being created themselves in the image of God. A minority yes, but authentic and true nonetheless.

Throughout Jewish history we have taken a stand against the marginalization of minority groups, seeing this as our religious obligation.  As a people well accustomed to being pushed to the side, persecuted simply for the fact of who we were, segregated and marginalized in country after country, the Jewish people uses as its rallying cry, “Never Again.”

In the past decades we have come to appreciate that “Never Again,” must mean more than just never again for the Jewish community.  We see it as our sacred obligation to push back when any minority group experiences persecution simply for who they are.  This is true whether the issue is race or color, age or gender, sexual identity or religious practice. We will always be Moses to Pharaoh, speaking truth to power. What this bill does is just not right.

We simply cannot afford to think about the Olympic athlete Lia Thomas competing at that level, without regard for the effect this bill will have on elementary and middle school children who have no desire for Olympic gold, at least not yet. Their only desire is to be recognized for who they are, and to be allowed the same access to youth sports as any other child.

To deny them this right is to deny them their very identity, in many cases the only identity they have ever known.  I beg of you not to make the mistake of harming Indiana’s children in an effort to ostensibly tackle the issue of fairness in sports.  This is not an issue of fairness in sports.  It is about the politics of gender, and of a great moral /ethical wrong which will be committed should this bill pass.