Progressively Speaking! How do we mark Pride Month during lockdown?
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Progressively Speaking! How do we mark Pride Month during lockdown?

Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel looks at the issue of celebrating the LGBTQI+ community with Covid restrictions still in place

An image of rainbow sweat bands, evoking the LGBT pride flag
An image of rainbow sweat bands, evoking the LGBT pride flag

Celebrating significant days in our Liberal Jewish calendar while in this period of lockdown and distancing is something our community is getting very good at. From packed Passover seders to our flagship Biennial – held last weekend with more than 1,500 delegates enjoying three days of services, sessions and online mingling – we have become a growing virtual movement.

Pride Month and LGBTQI+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and related communities] equality is central to Liberal Judaism. We were the first synagogal movement in the world to introduce liturgy for civil partnership ceremonies (in 2005), the first to (successfully) campaign for equal marriage and the first to introduce ketubot written specially for same-sex couples and those who prefer a non-binary or gender-neutral format.

Every year, for Pride, our synagogues and members enjoy services, socials and attendance at national parades and events. Two years ago, at Kingston Liberal Synagogue, we hosted a Pride Seder. This year, we were planning a similar event, but with an interfaith theme. This is still going to go ahead, but by necessity will be via Zoom.

Liberal Judaism has always been about collaboration, so we are excited that the Reverend Jide Macaulay of House of Rainbow – an organisation that fosters relationships among BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] and LGBTQI+ individuals, people of faith and allies to create a safer and a more inclusive community – will be part of the event.

In common with other Progressive communities, we run dedicated Shabbat services for Pride. These will move online, as well as a talk by Professor Marc Baer, author of a new book, German, Jew, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus.

The annual month of Pride is such an important celebration of those in our LGBTQI+ communities. It is always joyful, uplifting and lots of fun – but with a really important and powerful message about the need for inclusivity in our society.

At this time of lockdown, it is just as important as ever to celebrate this, even if it cannot be done in person.

We have spent the past couple of months showing how Liberal Jewish communities can come together – if only virtually – to pray, study and celebrate. We look forward to demonstrating this once more over Pride this summer.

  • Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel is rabbi at Kingston Liberal Synagogue
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