Jewish Gay Pride Strong at Philadelphia Parade

Dignity characterized Philadelphia's Gay Pride Parade yesterday. Each group marching past the review stands at Independence Mall stood tall and in the thousands, reflecting a growing and strong array of social service, religious and artistic, family and corporate support for equality across the full range of gender. 

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice was on the scene with a substantial booth at the six hour Penn's Landing party into which the parade participants and observers poured. Why? Rabbi Janet Marder put the matter most succinctly to my mind in the October 1985 issues of the Reconstructionist Magazine: "Reverence for tradition is no virtue when it promotes injustice and human suffering." All afternoon long, Jews and non-Jews of all ages and gender orientations came over to appreciate and explore our Jewish presence. We could see representatives of Beth Ahavah, the Delaware Valley's only gay and lesbian synagogue, as busy as we, across the courtyard. 

The progress in GBLTQ acceptance in Jewish life is substantial, albeit incomplete and insufficient. Since the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College led the way with unconditional ordination of gay and lesbian students in 1984, all the movements, save for for Orthodoxy have found their way to inclusive rites and ordinations. A few summers back National Havurah Institute offered programming to raise awareness of the leadership, challenges and needs of transgender Jews. In Jewish Renewal inclusion has long been manifest and encoded within its ethical platform.
 
"I'm so glad you're here," was what we heard over and over at the parade yesterday. We're offering a free raffle through the end of June with one of the prizes a free commitment ceremony with trimming donated from the flowers, cake, clothes and more.
  
More after the jump.

Yes, Judaism is big on family and commitment, so it was a joy to hear many share that they'd already undertake a Jewish commitment ceremony with their local Philadelphia rabbi. And we often heard comments such as these: "Reb Goldie, did you know that our rabbi is out and she's amazing! and "Ours isn't a gay synagogue, our rabbi is gay. We're an everyone synagogue and we love our rabbi." 
 
Echoing in every moment, for me, was the memory of being a married student attending the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote back in the 1980s when gay and lesbian ordination was coming up for a vote in the moment. Accustomed to heterosexual privilege, my heart broke that a vote on the humanity and Jewish authenticity of those around me. As a student body we rallied together, making sure airfares were available to get all possible voters down to the decision-making body that would be meeting in Florida. How could a Jewish human's right to ordination could possibly be an issue if they were succeeding in their training and studies? Faculty and movement leaders held educational programs to help members prepare for the vote. Gay and lesbian ordination passed by an overwhelming majority.
 
The Reconstructionist movement report mentioned early in this report states: "Traditional Judaism spoke of the widow, the orphan, the deaf, and the blind as those most in need of protection. Justice for the vulnerable is a test of the ultimate values of a community or society. Jewish sources, prayers and rituals continually remind us that we were once vulnerable as a people, enslaved in Egypt. We speak of having been strangers in the land of Egypt .At various later points in Jewish history, we have been vilified and oppressed for no reason other than our identity as Jews. As a consequence, a major theme of Jewish tradition is the obligation to be sensitive to the needs of … those that society views as outcast. The Jewish people has a special concern about just and fair treatment …"
 
One of the many parade delegations is called PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. This year PFLAG was one of the smallest groups marching, which I find a cause for concern. Showing up and standing up for our neighbors' humanity, and in every extended family, the rights of those we love, is part of what it means to live a mitzvah-centered life. Next year, if you didn't this year, join us in "coming out" as Jews who do not accept discrimination as an acceptable way of life. 

Photo: Barry Bub.

Win Up To $9,000 in Prizes from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice will be giving away a fabulous commitment ceremony/wedding package and other prizes this month! For a chance to win, simply join our free mailing list or update your registration. You can register online at http://www.pjvoice.com/subscribe.htm or sign up in person at the Philadelphia Jewish Voice’s table at the Philadelphia Pride Parade this Sunday, June 12 from noon to 6pm on Penn’s Landing.

The grand prize is transferable, so even if you are not personally planning on tying the knot, this prize is a terrific present to celebrate the union of your friends.

Prizes:

  • Grand Prize: Commitment Ceremony Package ($9,000+ value) including:
    • Commitment Ritual conducted by Philadelphia Jewish Voice Living Judaism editor Rabbi Goldie Milgram.
    • Preparation Sessions Six free hour-long planning sessions with Rabbi Milgram for the couple (and wedding planners, musicians, garment, food and invitation designers, etc. if desired), in person or phone/Skype/webcam depending on availability. Rabbi Milgram will facilitate creation of custom-designed ritual, vows and contract of spiritual commitment to complement your legal documents. These sessions will include spiritual support for your relationship which can be an open non-religion-specific spirituality or Jewish.
    • Wedding Cake designed and donated by Ciao Bella Cakes.
    • $1,000 in Flowers provided by Vandergrift Floral.
    • Dress or Accessories. $150 gift certificate to Paris Chic Bridal Boutique.
    • Honeymoon. One night stay at The Lippincott House Bed & Breakfast.
    • Cocktails for rehearsal party (up to 10 people) by Foodwerx.
    • Hair, Make-up and/or Hot Lather Shave (on-site) courtesy of Jacen Bowman.
    • Pillows engineered for your body weight and size by Pittman Pillows.
    • Photography with images on DVD by Kim Volcy Photography.
    • Five Hours of Party Service to staff your party courtesy of Beth’s Party Service.
    • Entertainment Services for your wedding with DJ and Karoke for five hours from Two Sisters Entertainment.
    • And More…. Additional details will be announced on the Philadelphia Jewish Voice as they become available.
  • Second Prize: Free Yoga lesson from Philadelphia Jewish Voice Art & Culture editor Lisa Grunberger.
  • Third Prize: Two free tickets to Theatre Ariel’s performance of ten 10-minute never-before-produced plays, 7pm this Sunday evening, June 12 at the Bristol Riverside Theatre. This prize will be awarded at the Pride Parade. Please indicate your cell phone number so we can notify you if you win.
  • Consolation Prizes: All subscribers who enter their complete address will be mailing an I read the Philadelphia Jewish Voice” bumper sticker, so that you can show your support of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.

Details follow the jump.


Rules:

  • Deadline: June 30, 2011
  • Eligibility: Limit one entry per person. Multiple entries will disqualify you. No purchase required. Staff and board members of the Philadelphia Jewish Voice and the Deal Monitor and their immediate families are not eligible.
  • Commitment Ceremony:
    • The couple must obtain their own attorney and execute any relevant legal documents to secure the flow of your estate and health-care rights under the jurisdiction where they reside. If their marriage is legal where this ritual will take place, then they will need to register accordingly prior to this ritual.
    • If the couple is Jewish, then Rabbi Goldie Milgram must approve or provide the Hebrew language that will appear in your ketubah (marriage contract). The couple must pay and secure their own artist to illustrate their ketubah.
    • The couple is responsible for the cost of Rabbi Milgram’s lodging, meals and transport for the weekend of your ritual from wherever she happens to be in the world at that time to wherever her next assignment happens to be.
    • Rabbi Milgram does not co-officiate with other clergy.

Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Creating beautiful, meaningful, spiritually authentic rites of passage, including Commitment Ceremonies has long been an important part of Rabbi Goldie Milgram’s life as a clergy person and we are fortunate to be able to share her experience with you.
Secularly, Dr. Goldie Milgram has long been a gender-rights activist. She also travels internationally as a teacher of spiritual health and non-profit leadership. She received the American Cancer Society Most Distinguished Couple Award for her work in publication education during a previous marriage where she anchored and invented the first public health talk television for NBC TV 40. She has offered programs under the auspices of the United Nations, Esalen, Rancho La Puerta, the New York Open Center, 92Y, universities and communities world-wide.  Wearing her Jewish hat, “Reb Goldie” as her students affectionately call her, holds a doctorate from New York Theological Seminary and is a twice ordained rabbi – a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and she also holds the private smichah (ordination) of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of Jewish Renewal. Dr. Milgram directs, ReclaimingJudaism.org and is author of numerous works including the first fully gender-inclusive work on Jewish ritual: Living Jewish Life Cycle: How to Create Meaningful Jewish Rites of Passage at Every Stage of Life (Jewish Lights Publishing).
Rabbi Goldie Milgram can be contacted at [email protected]

Good luck.