Remarks from Pride Shabbat
There are moments that we etch into our collective memory. For myself, those moments include the Challenger explosion, the assasination of Yitzhak Rabin, and the morning of 9/11. While moments like these may be followed by moments of bravery, of community coming together, the moments themselves are initially moments of collective pain and sorrow.
There are also moments of collective memory having overcome adversity, adversity often sowed from tears, adversity following generations of struggle. These moments begin not in pain but in pure unadulterated joy. 4 years ago, I stood on a crowded street in historic Charleston, South Carolina, waiting to attend the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Reverend Pinckney had been brutally murdered a few days earlier along with 8 others who had gathered to worship and to study, to join in fellowship.
A joyous cheer broke out in the crowd. A crowd of mourners broke out in shouts of joy. The Supreme Court had just ruled that the fundemental right to marry is guarunteed to same-sex couples. Marriage equality throughout our country. People of every walk of life- every age, every ethnicity, every gender, every religion, every sexual orientation, in line to pay their respects to a respected and beloved minister and leader, screamed for joy. I was proud to be a part of such a moment. I am proud of what we can do when we acknowledge the beauty of all humanity, when we recognize that Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love. I was proud in that moment of collective joy. I am once again proud today.
On this Shabbat, we celebrate love. We celebrate diversity. We celebrate the dream, the hope for a more inclusive and embracing community. This Pride Shabbat, literally SHabbat Ha-gei-a-va, is our collective embrace of all: pride in all individuals, pride in our community for making today a reality.
The fact that we mark today with the vibrant colors of the rainbow, here in the sanctuary of the Jacksonville Jewish Center, is truly a celebration. There was a time, not that long ago, when anyone who had what may have been coined an alternative lifestyle had to find an alternative place, an alternative community. We’ve come a long way on our journey towards inclusivity, but we have a long way to go. 13 years ago, as the Conservative Movement passed a ruling to allow ordination of Gay and Lesbian rabbis and cantors, our congregation was still making the giant leap towards fully egalitarian worship. When our city debated the passing of a fully expanded Human Rights Ordinance, our 3 clergy were the first handful of faith leaders to sign on in support. At at time when Pride parades battle with intersectionality, when members of the LGBTQ Jewish community feel like they have to fight off a rise in anti-semitism, I hope that today is affirmation that we can be a haven, a home..a place and community where one’s Judaism and one’s sexuality do not have to be at odds with one another. Leading up to this moment, perception and reality have been greatly unaligned. Yet, I am proud of where we are going. I am proud that when you google “Pride Shabbat” that the Jacksonville Jewish Center pops up as the #2 response. I am proud to be here with members of the LGBTQ community, with allies, friends and family. And I am proud to be here this morning, to have this platform and share this bima with our member Frieda Saraga, who through her own journey, has made it her life’s passion to embrace all. We are blessed by her presence, her commitment to push for growth in our own congregation and for all of Jacksonville.
For access to our Pride supplement click here.