People often share with me that Gateways’ annual Sweet Sounds event stands out among many other events because, when you look around the room, you will see representation from every part of our Jewish community. Disability doesn’t discriminate, but rather cuts across any divide, whether political, religious, economic, racial, or sexual. However, we as Jews also understand well how disability can compound with other marginalized identities.
June is Pride Month, where members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community celebrate LGBTQ+ identity and protest against discrimination and violence. During these first few days of June, I found myself on the Keshet Boston website, reading their “Seven Jewish Values: Guidelines for inclusive Jewish community,” which Keshet created to serve as a basis to advocate for LGBTQ+ equality in Jewish life. What I loved about these particular values is that they are truly universal, and can be read through an intersectional lens that applies to anyone.
“Kavod / respect,” “B’tzelem Elohim / in God’s image,” or (one of my favorites), “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh / all Israel is responsible for one another,” are just some of the values we want to model for the next generation during Pride Month year-round. However, the value that resonated most with me in this current moment, especially as our society reopens more broadly in this stage of the pandemic, was number seven: “Al tifrosh min hatsibur / don’t separate yourself from the community.” Keshet’s “Seven Jewish Values” says, “When you feel different from others in your community, don’t isolate yourself. Find allies and supporters who you can talk to. If you know someone who is feeling isolated, reach out; be an ally and a friend.”
Indeed, we need our allies and friends now more than ever across every divide, because we are stronger together than apart. I remain forever grateful for YOUR continued support and friendship to Gateways and our global, proudly diverse Jewish community.