I like living in Holy Land Central (HLC) because I get my cultural identity fix through osmosis. Synagogue not being my hangout of choice on Saturday (or any) morning, I derive the benefits of custom by simply being here. No need to leave home because history and culture surround.
This rather convenient perk gets even perkier when spiritually inclined friends share religious goings-on. I get the hand-me-down scoop on what their Kiryat Arba relatives discuss over Friday night roast chicken dinner, my friends get to share and according to the Jewish Codebook (copyright 1978, all rights reserved) we all get bonus points for playing nice.
Over the weekend my pal Tamar attended a bar-mitzvah conducted within a pluralistic setting. The tone was set when she turned to the woman sitting beside her to ask if something tragic had happened to the bar-mitzvah boy’s absent father. He’s a sperm donor child, she informed.
With a 7.5-month pregnant rabbi, women reading from the Torah and a lesbian Gabbai (lay person performing ceremonial duties) … Heckee shucks. Sounds like just another day where I come from!
For Tamar, however…
“It was thrilling to be present at this service, in Israel, where the players came as they are! Where it’s possible to be yourself in a shul that isn’t only for LGBT (lesbian gay bi-sexual transgender) or for families where a child is conceived w/donated sperm or where the rabbi is not necessarily a male and so on.
A place/community where whoever you are or are not, you are welcome. All these pleasures despite the chorus of little voices in my head replaying the cruel, ignorant comments I have heard about the reformeem this and the reformeem that. I say: GOD BLESS THE REFORMEEM.”
Tamar Goes to Shul March 5, 2006