Rabbi Lionel Blue


Rabbi Lionel Blue was born in the East End of London on 6 February, 1930, the only son of a master tailor. Blue was discharged from the army after a nervous breakdown brought on by anxiety over his homosexuality. Blue read history at Oxford and Semitics at London University before being ordained as a rabbi in 1960. Between 1960 and 1963, he was the minister of the Settlement Synagogue and Middlesex New Synagogue. He then became the European Director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. In 1967, he began a long-term engagement as lecturer at Leo Baeck College in London. Blue was the first British rabbi to publicly declare his homosexuality and published Godly and Gay in 1981.

Rabbi Lionel blue has become widely known in the U.K. as a broadcaster, journalist, cook and author. His combination of wit, humor, humility and compassion has appealed to and entertained persons from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds. For more than 25 years Blue has been a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day. His many books include: A Backdoor to Heaven (Fount, 1985); Kitchen Blues (ISIS Large Print, 1986); Bolt from the Blue (Hodder & Stoughton, 1986); Tales of Body and Soul (Coronet, 1995); My Affair with Christianity (Hodder & Stoughton General, 1999) Sun, Sand and Soul (Hodder & Stoughton General, 1999) and Kindred Spirits (Fount, 1999). His autobiography, Hitchhiking to Heaven, was published by Hodder & Stoughton General in 2004.

Blue's autobiography tells of his three long-term male partners. He met his current partner Jim in 1981 by answering a personal advertisement in Gay Times. They lived together in a home in Finchley until Jim's death in 2014.  Blue died on December 19, 2016.

(This biographical statement written by Mark Bowman from several Internet sources, including: http://myweb.lsbu.ac.uk/~stafflag/lionelblue.htmlwww.gordonpoole.com/speakers/rabbilionelblue.htm; and www.timesonline.co.uk)

Biography Date: November, 2005

Additional Resources



Jewish (ethnic, Reform, Reconstructionist, Orthodox) | Author/editor | Clergy Activist | United Kingdom | Blue, Lionel


“Rabbi Lionel Blue | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed May 30, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/lionel-blue.


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