A Spectacular Pride Shabbat

group of people stand on a rainbow-decorated bima

June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate and fully see the members of the LGBTQ+ community. As part of the SEA Change initiative, Washington Hebrew Congregation created an LGBTQ+ affinity group, and on June 24, they teamed with 2239 to host our first Pride Shabbat.

Rick Woler, co-lead of the group, was thrilled at both the turnout and community-building that took place. “Allie and I each also had numerous people come up to us during dinner and share that this was their first time in a synagogue in YEARS — some since b’nei Mitzvah — because they never felt it was a place they would be welcomed or feel connection (not just LGBTQ+ either). They expressed surprise and joy at how inviting Washington Hebrew felt last night, and just about all of them said they plan to come back very soon.”

Woler pointed out that while many corporations and organizations will put a rainbow flag on their logo for the month, but then return to business as usual on July 1, “this is NOT the case at WHC, and it resonated with people. They could tell that the clergy aren’t just June allies. They knew that WHC is a place for them ALL year and always. It wasn’t ‘we’re proud to be allies’ — it was ‘we are proud of OUR LGBTQ+ community’ — and there’s an important distinction there.”

LGBTQ+ co-lead Allie Heiman added, “One of my favorite moments of the night was a new member telling me she brought two colleagues who hadn’t been to synagogue in years because she knew it would be a positive environment and experience for them — and it was, and they want to come back. Her trust in us is founded in the work the clergy and staff have done to make every WHC experience and encounter a warm, welcoming, and inclusive experience.”

While the event was one of 2239’s monthly Metro Minyan events, more than a few members who are no longer in that age bracket joined in the festivities and were pleasantly surprised at how much fun they were having at Temple, a sentiment shared by those of all ages.

Did you miss Pride Shabbat? Watch it from the archives!