Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Bavel and the Loss of Young Lives"

"Building the Tower: Bavel and the Loss of Young Lives"
in memory of Seth Walsh, Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas, and Asher Brown
Dear Chevreh,

I write to you hopeful that each of our children and every adult  in our community knows how precious their life is.  Your life, no matter who you are, is sacred and important.  Sexual identity is complicated.  It is also beautiful.  Coming Out is part of a journey of personal growth.  Each of us discovers ourselves at different points in our lives.  We are straight, we are gay, we are bisexual, we are transgendered.  We are people, each created in God's Image.

In response to the teenage boys who took their own lives due to homophobic bullying and harassment during this past month, Keshet (an incredible Jewish GLBTQ organization), began a campaign called "Do Not Stand Idly By."  I am very proud that Netivot Shalom was one of the first shuls in the country to sign on to this national response, which has a large and diverse number of national and local Jewish signatures, from both organizations and individuals.

I'm especially grateful that Shifra Pride Raffel delivered these words in her drasha this morning during Shabbat davening.  Click here to read the drasha, "Building the Tower: Bavel and the Loss of Young Lives."  Though I could not be there myself, her teaching permeated my Shabbat, as I looked at every face I saw with a sense of obligation and a renewed determination to continue our work to make our shul and larger community a safe place, a home for generating personal hope.

I spoke with our Amitim class about this last week, and ask you to not wait to have this conversation.  We cannot claim to be an GLBTQ inclusive community if we do not, as Shifra challenged us in her drasha, identify ourselves as safe people for young people to speak to.  I promise to be a safe person for you, and many, many, many people in our community are here for you as well. 

My deepest prayer is that no person be hurt for being themselves.  May we, as a sacred community, help this become even more real - and contagious.

Shavuah Tov,
Rabbi Creditor

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Congregation Netivot Shalom | 1316 University Avenue | Berkeley | CA | 94702