Each June, we honor the movement for LGBT equality and inclusion, celebrate recent victories against discrimination and recommit to making progress surrounding LGBT issues in the future.
A minute’s walk from the synagogue is the town’s war memorial, where the names of Petoskey’s fallen sons are forever enshrined. One of those names belongs to Navy SEAL Senior Chief Petty Officer Heath Robinson, z’l. Senior Chief Robinson was killed in the mountains of Afghanistan when the helicopter he was riding in was shot down on August 6, 2011. Although I didn’t know the Senior Chief, I was in Afghanistan on the day he and 37 other brave warriors died, making it perhaps the single worst day of that deployment for me and a lot of other folks serving there. Before each Shabbat in Petoskey, I went to the memorial, knelt down, put my hand on his name, and simply said “Thank you.”
Here are a few simple action steps that synagogue leadership can take to improve the experience of your youngest congregants, to attract and retain family memberships, and to protect the future of the Jewish people.
This is the beginning not only of changing perceptions of Jews in Indonesia, but also of simultaneously working toward a greater acceptance of Islam in America. This task – of advocating for those who are discriminated against on the basis of religious identity, in the hopes that we may live and learn together – is no more important and timely than today.
Do you ever wonder why almost all Jews celebrate Passover but when it comes to Shavuot, the numbers are usually meager? Is it because Passover is all about freedom while Shavuot is about responsibility? Or is it because the creatively elastic ritual called seder takes place at home while the more conventional Shavuot is synagogue-based? Or maybe it’s that Pesach focuses a lot of attention on young children? The first ritual act our little ones perform is to ask questions of their elders and then later we count on their sense of the possible as they open the door, believing that Elijah might in fact be there. For too many, bar and bat mitzvah lead to a modern day exodus as young people take their leave of formal Jewish learning before they’ve even had a chance to swim in the proverbial “deep water” of the Jewish tradition.
An important way we can support those living with mental illness is to change the scope of the conversation around these issues from private to communal.
“She, both of us…and tutors…are up until midnight every night doing homework. We can’t handle anything more.” Learn how one congregation is helping teens and their parents address the stressors in their lives.