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Happy Pride

06/02/2021 11:39:24 AM


Beth Schafer

A few weeks ago we read from the Book of Leviticus “v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha,” or, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Akiva and countless others believed it to be one of the most important understandings of Jewish life.

There are two statements contained in these words of Torah. The first, you must love yourself. There is no pathway to loving another until you can love the person you are. We are so good at nitpicking things about ourselves—our physical appearances, our shortcomings, our mistakes—but these are not the things that make up the essence of us. The essence of us transcends those things, it is the stuff of our souls—what makes us tick, how we love, how we harness our God-given gifts to improve the world we live in. To love that self is to appreciate the Divine implanted in each of us. The second statement is to love others knowing that they also possess a Divine essence equally as precious as our own. This very Jewish teaching is what the secular world would call the psychology of self-esteem and the source of self-pride.

Although Atlanta celebrates Gay Pride in October, the rest of the nation has deemed June as the official Pride Month celebration. In addition to those of the LGBTQ+ community having the opportunity to demonstrate self-love, it is also an opportunity for the straight community to demonstrate loving their neighbors. LGBTQ equality is a central value of Jewish tradition. For centuries, Judaism has recognized and celebrated a diverse spectrum of sex and gender identities. At Temple Sinai we will celebrate Pride Month at our services on Friday, June 11. We will feature guest speaker Rebecca Stapel-Wax, Executive Director of SOJOURN, the LGBTQ+ advocacy and education organization for the Southeast. No matter what your sexual or gender orientation is, Pride Month is a great time just to celebrate the best of what Judaism stands for, loving oneself and loving one’s neighbor.

Happy Pride and Shabbat Shalom,


Wed, December 1 2021 27 Kislev 5782