Pride Celebrations are upon us and will now continue for several months throughout the summer. I am thankful of the successes to celebrate – the President of the United States now openly supports same sex marriage, the case to allow marriage equality (again) in California advanced another step, DADT was struck down, the Conservative seminary in Israel started to admit gay and lesbian students and the Conservative Movement in the United States announced guides for its rabbis to conduct same gender ceremonies.
The Institute for Judaism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity recently completed a five part LGBT Pastoral Care series for students and clergy and you can see check out those talks by clicking on the link. I was recently a panelist supporting the Righteous Conversations project which gifted us with their PSA which you can see on our face page. I also co-led a workshop to train members of Chevra Kadishas to be inclusive to the needs of Transgender Jews at the time of their death. Later in the summer will be teaching a class for our DELET students who are becoming educators in Jewish day schools. I always love teaching these students who work in all different types of Jewish school – pluralistic to religious and who bring real-life cases to address so they can make their classrooms as welcoming as possible.
The congregations in the Welcoming Synagogues Project pilot have continued their work developing comprehensive visions of welcoming for their communities and implementing concrete action to live out these visions. Stay tuned for a full report on the project in the Fall.
We need to wholeheartedly celebrate these successes and forward movement in LGBT issues and in LGBT Jewish issues. An amazing amount of hard work went into making these events possible. That sweat and hard work, sometimes years in the making is rarely seen or appreciated so I want to offer a special Kol haKavod to all the people that made these achievements possible.
At the same time, we need to remember that there are still huge amounts of work to do. When I spoke at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust about the Righteous Conversation’s "Love Makes a Family" PSA developed by teens and Holocaust survivors, I could see the direct link between the persecution that Jews and Gays endured then and today where a “Christian” pastor from North Carolina recently called for gays and lesbians to be sent to concentrations camps. The need for this PSA is clear and its "ah hah" moment reminds us of our own blinders, and of the actions that we still need to take to address those blinders. Many things have improved and the overall level of tolerance of some parts of the LGBT community has increased, but we are still far short of full inclusion. Many Jews avow an inclusive stance or belief but more rarely do we take action on that stance and commit to justice work on behalf of LGBT causes or even on doing the basic work in our own communities.
This summer as Pride events happen around the country, join in, make a Jewish presence known so that the people can see a progressive religious face to counter the religious “Right” which has laid claim to knowing what the Bible says and what God wants. After you celebrate by walking in a Jewish contingent in a parade or offering a drash at a Shabbat service, do one other piece of work, whether it be checking all the forms in your congregation for inclusive language (i.e., replacing Mother/Father with Parent/Guardian 1 & 2), seeing what LGBT inclusive books are in the synagogue library and classrooms, or do a visual inventory of your building or website to see if there are any images of LGBT couples or families.
If you want more specific ideas or help with the process of becoming more welcoming, just contact us.