Rabbi Jon Cutler had an incredible career as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. After celebrating his recent retirement, Jon tells Bryan and Rachael about his challenges being a gay man in rabbinical school and the U.S. military while also being a voice for minority soldiers. Jon also unveils his secret plans for Bryan’s fitness routine!
This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ReconstructingJudaism.org.
- How a high-ranking gay Navy chaplain retired with pride | The Times of Israel — In 2008, under the energetic US Navy chaplain serving with the Marines in Anbar Province, Iraq, a plywood synagogue rose from the grounds of the American air base at Al-Asad once used by Saddam Hussein. It was the first synagogue built in Iraq in 100 years. During the Iraq War, it was a refuge for American Jewish service members who read from its kosher Torah — a rarity in Iraq — and attended High Holiday and Hanukkah services. These were among the many achievements of Rabbi Jon Cutler’s deployment in Iraq from 2008 to 2009. Yet all of those achievements could have been dashed had the military ever learned Cutler’s secret: He is gay. For nearly two decades, fear stalked Cutler and fellow gay, lesbian and bisexual members of the US military under the policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), which was passed by the Clinton Administration in 1993 and became law in 1994. Six years ago on September 20, 2011, the policy was repealed. And on April 30 of this year, when Cutler retired as a Captain, the highest-ranking Jewish chaplain in the Marines, he walked down the aisle at his retirement ceremony with his husband, Thierry Steenberghs.