Friday, March 14, 2014

A Thought or Two for Shabbat Zachor and Purim, 2014

So my husband, Ken and I just returned from our wonderful ESHEL community retreat. We are a group of Orthodox parents of LGBTQ members of our larger religiously observant Jewish community. The theme was about hiding, as we were beginning to think about the fun costumes, hats and masks that we CHOOSE to don for Purim in celebration of the great victory of right over oppressive!

As I sit here hours before the beginning of Shabbat Zachor when we read about the Amalekites and what they did so wrong to our people, after which Purim begins tomorrow night, I am filled with gratitude.

I am grateful that our family lives in this space and place so our daughter Rachie can be her totally integrated religiously observant gay self who is also an awesome professional really trying to and MAKING important differences in our world.

I am grateful for all of our family and friends who validate Rachie and us as members of our community. This gives us strength to accept those who do not, and this is okay. Really! We hope that as time goes on, this too will change.

I am grateful for how awesome our children are and how Ribbonu shel Olam has guided us in raising them to have strength of conviction and strong sense of presence.

I am grateful for the growing understanding in our entire Jewish community and world in accepting G-d’s work and rejoicing with each other.

I am grateful for ESHEL for providing us, and others like us with a community, with a truly wonderful KEHILAH.

And as we approach Shabbat Zachor, I am REMINDED of all of these wonderful things in our lives. I will also listen intently as I always do to the reading about the Amalekites who attacked the Israelites from behind, compromising their most vulnerable community members, those who needed protection and understanding.

We often speak about other Amalekites who have risen throughout our history with such attacks. As we all listen this Shabbat Zachor (Shabbat of Remembering) to this reading, let us remember to NOT act as the Amalekites, as we will read in a few weeks to NOT act like other peoples who maligned and compromised us (the Egyptians in the case of the upcoming Torah readings) – and let us act instead as Balaam saw us, as a people who live harmoniously and with respect and regard for each other.

Let us remember that there are still communities in our Orthodox world in which members MUST WEAR MASKS, not because of the fun of Purim but as a result of the fear of rejection and exclusion just because G-d made them the way G-d made them.

Let us all work together to accept and value each other, to insure that masks put on are for fun and not because of pain, and to remember that we are all part of KLAL YISRAEL and are enjoined to act as such.

For such efforts we all make in this shared task, I am grateful.

Shabbat Zachor Shalom and Chag Purim Sameach to all!

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