Written by: Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner
June is Pride Month in this country: a month when LGBTQ+ voices are amplified, LGBTQ lives are celebrated, LGTBQ losses are mourned, and when we renew our commitment to creating a world of justice and equality for all.
Naomi Goldberg, an Ann Arbor Jewish activist and co-parent with her wife Libby of 7-year-old Nathan, wrote on Sunday May 30th:
“I always look forward to Pride Month, but it feels heavier this year – because of the killings of black people and the painful and important wrestling with how far we still have to go as a country (and as white people); because of the pandemic with hundreds of thousands dying and sick and millions losing jobs and millions struggling with social distancing; and while we’re anticipating rulings from SCOTUS that could jeopardize workplace protections for LGBTQ people.”
We don’t celebrate Pride this year in spite of overwhelming loss and revealed injustice:
We celebrate because the first Pride Parade was the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a protest against police violence led by queer and trans people of color.
We celebrate because LGBTQ equality is a branch of the same tree that roots the Black Lives Matter movement, the #MeToo movement, disability activism, and the ongoing struggle to teach our political leaders that human lives must be valued over financial profit.
We celebrate knowing that joy is important; that learning our LGBTQ Jewish history is important; that highlighting LGBTQ heroes in our community and beyond is important; and that hearing and witnessing our LGBTQ members, particularly during this time, is important.
We celebrate because celebrating is an act of joyful defiance against those who would have us believe that we are not all created b’tzelem Elohim.
How will AARC celebrate Pride Month this year?
On Friday June 26th, join us online for Pride Shabbat, beginning at 6:30 pm. If there are readings, poems, or personal reflections you’d like included in the service, email Rabbi Ora (email@example.com) by Friday, June 19.
What else will happen? We have some ideas, but we need YOU to make them happen!
- A virtual Pride ‘Parade,’ kicked off by a kid-centered virtual sign-making party. After creating the signs, take a photo of your family holding these signs in your front yard, or stick them in your windows and take a photo of that! We’ll share them all together as a virtual Parade. Are you willing to coordinate this (with help)? Email Gillian at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Host an online discussion based on a podcast episode. Keshet has a new podcast video series called Joy and Resilience: Jewish LGBTQ Leaders on What Sustains Us All, while the podcast Making Gay History has a number of episodes that focus on past and present Jewish LGBTQ activists. Invite folks to watch or listen at their leisure, then plan a Zoom call to talk about it. Want to facilitate this (with guidance)? Email Rabbi Ora at email@example.com
- Are you an LGBTQ member of our community? Consider writing a paragraph on what Jewish community means to you, and we’ll feature your words in a special blog post this month. Have something to share? Please email Judith Jacobs (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your reflection by June 11
- Do you have pictures of yourself and your family or friends attending Pride parades in past years? Email Gillian your photos
Other ideas for how we can celebrate and learn together? Please email Rabbi Ora, Gillian, or Judith so we can support you in making your vision a reality.
Finally, I want to remind you that starting this year, AARC celebrates Pride Month in the context of a larger commitment from our leadership to increase LGBTQ inclusion in our congregation through leadership training, programming, policy, and shifts in culture. If you have ideas on how to contribute in any of these areas, please be in touch.
I look forward to celebrating with you.
Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner