June is Pride Month

Our local community is hosting many online LGBTQ Pride Month events, notwithstanding the public health response to COVID19 which has led to the cancellation of […]

Our local community is hosting many online LGBTQ Pride Month events, notwithstanding the public health response to COVID19 which has led to the cancellation of in-person gatherings. I was delighted to learn about the Community Pride Seder of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, in San Francisco. The Pride Seder chronicles the liberation of LGBTQ people. June 22, at 7:00pm, if you want to join me in attending this free event.

Some background… Having grown up with a little sister who is a lesbian, I have been observing June as Pride Month for a long time. Watching her grow has brought forward to me the importance of valuing her unique expression of Tzelem Elohim, (being made in the Image of the Divine). Going to parades, and attending Pride events, has been an annual practice. Last year, for the first time, when I marched with the Peninsula JCC in their SF Pride parade contingent, I marched as CBJ’s Cantor. Earlier in the year I had joined a cohort of Bay Area Jewish leaders for training with Keshet, (Hebrew for Rainbow). After the training, I felt my personal experience should be more visible in my Jewish life. It was now important to me to show support for Pride Month as a member of the clergy.

The full name of this organization that had such an impact on me is Keshet: For LGBTQ Equality in Jewish LIfe. They work to strengthen Jewish communities by equipping Jewish organizations with skills and knowledge to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, for the benefit of youth, families and individuals. As a result of learning wiht Keshet, I made another change.

You may have noticed that I include the personal pronouns that I use: she/her/hers in the signature of my email. For folks who don’t know me, including this information is a way of getting out in front of possible ambiguity. I also want to express my awareness that you can’t tell how a person wants to be referred to based on name or appearance. Today, it’s recognized by many in society that there is a spectrum of experiences from binary male or female, to non-binary. As a gesture of respect, I want to let someone know that they can share such information with me.

Pride and Pride Month have evolved over the decades, from Gay Pride to LGBTQ Pride. The name has shifted as people have recognized more sublety in sexual orientation. The acronym LGBTQ+ refers to Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Questioning. I see this evolution as the result of study, struggle, and greater understanding of the human experience. As we can lift up the truth of who our loved ones, and fellow Jews, do we not recognize more faces of holiness, of Tzelem Elohim? I believe so.

Here are some additional online resources for Pride Month:

The PJCC in Foster City’s Pride Month Celebration:  https://pjcc.org/pride/

Keshet’s website is full of ways to plug in to Pride 2020, including Pride Havdalah: keshetonline.org