ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני יי
“Love your fellow as yourself. I am God.”
Years ago, one of my closest friends came out to me over the phone as queer. A call that to them must have felt like it went across an impossible distance. I didn’t understand the exact words that they were telling me then, the language to describe the identity that they had bravely realized. I was confused and I didn’t want to demonstrate my ignorance by asking questions about something that was clearly so very important. I was afraid I would offend them, use the wrong bit of language; misgender, misidentify, mistake. I love them, and would never want to hurt them…and even with all those intentions I still could have done better. In the years since that moment, I have told them this many times with both my deeds and my words.
Allyship is a messy, imperfect, and ongoing process.
And it is so vitally needed. Intolerance, hatred, and backlash against our LGBTQIA2S+ siblings are not limited to other nations or faiths. It can be found close at home, here in Ontario, and close to our hearts, amongst the Jewish people. Reform Judaism has been at the forefront of the religious call for inclusion for decades now, but our work is not done. Indeed, one of the most vital lessons that our Mishnah teaches us, regarding grand projects of social change and justice, is that we may not be there to finish the work. We may not be capable of changing the world. Yet that doesn’t free us from our obligation to try.
Next week on June 9th, here at Holy Blossom Temple, we will celebrate Pride Shabbat. It is my sincere hope that you will join us for a festive and beautiful evening, celebrating our members, our family, and our friends. There will be joyous music, delicious food, and incredible performances demonstrating the many beautiful faces, identities and souls of those who call this sacred place their own.
Rabbi Denise Eger, Senior Rabbi of Temple Kol Ami in California, past president of the CCAR, and editor of Mishkan Ga’Avah, writes “You have loved your People Israel with a never-ending love. You have given us Your Torah, laws, and statutes, to guide us so that our lives may be filled with holiness and happiness. We know that we must find ways to strengthen our faith and hope in you. Your Torah acts as our inspiration. Help us, O God, to find ways to renew our commitments as Jews. Teach us to feel proud of all our identities. For you, Eternal One, made us as we are. We say: Praised are You, Source of all, who is the lover of the People Israel.”
And we say: Amen.