This past Shabbat marked the beginning of a wonderful celebratory month for LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and more!) Pride. I am excited to share that Beth Tzedec is partnering on a number of events to mark this joyous occasion in the city:
- Community Pride Shabbat Dinner at the 519 . June 7, 6 p.m. (sold out!)
- Camp, Pride, and Family- Oh My! Panel Discussion with Canadian Young Judaea. June 8, 12:30 p.m. following the Multigenerational Family Shabbat Service and Luncheon
- Pride Shabbat Dinner for 20s and 30s, June 28, partnering with Holy Blossom and Moishe House Toronto and hosted by Rabbi Steve and Jody Wernick
There is definitely something for everyone. We have a large community dinner with partners from across a pluralistic Jewish Toronto, a learning opportunity with those involved in Canada’s first LGBTQ Jewish overnight camp following a family-friendly service, and a more intimate backyard gathering for young professionals. There are countless other events happening in the city this month, and I am really proud that our synagogue is engaging in the important discussions and celebrations that shape my daily life. As my wife Pearl wrote in the bulletin last year and then shared on the USCJ website: “My Judaism is queer. My queerness is an essential part of who I am as much as my Jewish identity.”
This past year, we’ve seen programming at Beth Tzedec that many wouldn’t have ever thought to see in our Toronto Conservative synagogue. On the afternoon of Yom Kippur, we presented a moderated panel on LGBTQ Jewish experiences. Three brave members of the community shared their experiences to an engaged and very packed room. In the fall, Beth Tzedec hosted a social justice Shabbat dinner focusing on transgender activism and inclusion, featuring guests Abby Stein and Rabbi Mike Moskowitz.
Of course, providing events and programming are only a tiny fraction of what it means to be part of an inclusive and diverse community. Beth Tzedec has had its struggles and for some continues to be a space that is uncomfortable for those in the LGBTQ community. Inclusion involves dismantling physical, mental, and social barriers that have excluded LGBTQ people and actively engaging with the people, places, and processes that make our community more welcoming, inclusive and strong. This involves having sometimes difficult conversations with members, training our clergy and staff, revising non-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, developing inclusive language for simchas, and more.
This is all becoming more and more important, and personal, as my wife and I plan a future at Beth Tzedec. My wife’s parents were married here, we celebrated our aufruf here, and we look forward to naming a child here. Our family is growing and our love for Jewish traditions, learning, and community grows at the same time. So Pride is not just a month of revelling in rainbows and excitement, or years of fighting for marriage rights, but living our lives as best we can to create a better world for the future.
I look forward to celebrating and growing with you.
- Geneviève Cohen
Geneviève Cohen is the newly appointed Chair of the LGBTQ Inclusion Committee at Beth Tzedec Congregation. If you would like to learn more or get involved in bringing LGBTQ+ inclusion to our synagogue, please contact Geneviève at firstname.lastname@example.org.