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Or Haneshamah - Ottawa's Reconstructionist Community

Touch the Torah and Be Touched

Being encircled by the Torah after circling around with the Torah on Simhat Torah – this is how we Jew-it at OrH! Inclusive, multi-generational, meaningful Judaism, Reconstructionist-style

Board of Directors' June 14 Resolution Regarding the Events in Orlando

In light of the tragic events in Orlando, the Board of Directors of Or Haneshamah unanimously resolve to stand in solidarity with Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton and the LGBTQ community. In addition, see Rabbi Liz' Words of the Spirit blog post Pride and Visibility: In the Wake of the Pulse Shooting in Orlando.

From the Rabbi - Words of the Spirit

Marching from Margin to Center


09/08/16 06:34:37 PM

In the early 1980s, when the AIDS crisis had already begun to cut its wide swath of devastation in the United States, the epidemic was just emerging in Canada. After my dearest high school friend died with AIDS in 1983, I vowed to do something to honour his memory.

A few years later, while living in Toronto, I launched the CHAI Project – AIDS education in the Jewish Community. At the same time, I was a volunteer with ACT, the AIDS Committee of Toronto, speaking in the community at large, and developing resource material on AIDS and Judaism for the ACT resource library.

I’ll never forget a phone call I placed to the then-director of a Jewish community social service agency, during which he declared, in a tone that was both confident and hostile, that this wasn’t a Jewish issue, and thus he didn’t see why his agency needed to address it.

Those of you who work or intersect with the broader Jewish community on other issues may recognize this attitude from your work in the fields of domestic violence, or substance abuse, or other conditions that have been relegated to the margins. We can agree that in these times, for the most part, the Institutional Jewish Community has moved tremendously, integrating programs, allocating resources and moving the issues - as Bell hooks, the American womanist writer might say - from margin to center.

For me, there is no distance between my Jewish and queer identities. That was not always the case. It took some time, mainly through my twenties and early thirties, to recognize that I had been “balkanizing” my identities. Their integration is what led me to rabbinical studies, for it was only as an everything-I-am that I could fully do my work in the world.

As a member of the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities, we can be proud of our leadership and our visibility on LGBTQ issues. On its website, the Human Rights Campaign posts:

Of the four leading Jewish denominations, the Reconstructionist Movement is considered the most consistently welcoming and affirming. The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College was the first Jewish seminary to accept openly LGBTQ students, and the Reconstructionist Movement is committed to creating communities that welcome all people, including LGBTQ individuals and their families. The Movement celebrates same-sex marriages, allows LGBTQ ordination, and includes the representation of LGBTQ people in its religious school curricula.

The Reconstructionist Movement welcomes transgender individuals, accepts transgender students to the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and ordains transgender rabbis. Rituals and prayers specific to the life events of a transgender person have been developed, and support is provided to Reconstructionist communities working toward becoming more fully welcoming and affirming of transgender members.

We’re leading here in Ottawa, at the heart of a contingent that will march in our Pride Parade on Sunday, August 21. Our Shabbat in the Park on Saturday August 20 is our Pride Shabbat – look for the Rainbow Flag with a magen david heart! Join in, with pride, in celebrating our community, and our values.

- Rabbi Liz

Previous posts from Words of the Spirit >>

Wed, 31 August 2016 27 Av 5776