November 25, 2022
Last Friday I wrote to you about Transgender Awareness week. On Sunday morning, we awoke to the awful and tragic news from Colorado Springs of a shooting at a gay bar. To go to a place where you find acceptance and community, and then to be wounded or killed is a tragedy. It is being investigated as a hate crime. Far too often, marginalized communities face danger in the United States. Whether it is for gender identity, sexual orientation, race, or religion – marginalized communities are under attack and feel threatened. We need to work to create more welcoming spaces for people to be seen and valued for who they are. And we must do more to ensure that those spaces remain safe. The Anti-Defamation League has a pyramid of hate, which you can see at this link.
I am often asked what we can do about hate and violence. Sometimes I just don’t know. For now, let us honor the memories of those who died. I want to share with you the following prayer which is in Mishkan Gaavah: Where Pride Dwells, a collection of prayers in honor of the LGBTQ community. This prayer is written by Ariel Zitny:
A Transgender Day of Remembrance Yizkor (Prayer of Remembrance): For Those Who Died Sanctifying Their Names
God full of compassion, remember those whose souls were taken in transphobic violence. Those souls reflected the tremendous, multitudinous splendor of Your creations; they illustrated Your vastness through their ever-expanding variations of being b’tzelem Elohim, of being made in Your image. Source of mercy, provide them the true shelter and peace that they deserved in this world.
Those deaths were caused by hatred in our society. It is upon us to repair this brokenness in our world. May we have the strength to sanction justice, speedily and in our days. For those who died by murder, we remember them.
For those who died by suicide, we remember them. We remember their names, for those names will forever be a blessing.
Nurturing One, comfort all who are mourning. Grant them healing in their hardship.
And let us say: Amen.
Thursday, December 1 is World AIDS Day. We also remember those who died from AIDS and those in our community who live with AIDS. Rabbi Denise Eger of Kol Ami in West Hollywood began her rabbinate tending to AIDS patients. In the year 2000, she wrote these words as an addition to the Aleinu prayer.
May We Choose: Addition to Aleinu
May We Choose to Be a Blessing (Mishkan Gaavah: Where Pride Dwells ed. Rabbi Denise Eger, CCAR Press)
May we choose to separate ourselves from insensitive actions and intolerant attitudes.
May we choose to make our synagogue a place where all can unburden themselves without fear of ridicule or gossip.
May we choose to debunk the myths and hurtful stories about AIDS that force people into isolation.
May we choose to form relationships that are caring and holy.
May we choose to lobby for adequate health care and medical coverage for those who are HIV positive.
May we choose to hold the hands of the sick.
May we choose to live in this world as we would want to live in that era when every day will be like Shabbat, an image of perfection.
May we choose to be a blessing. Let us carry these words of prayer with us as we enter this Shabbat, and may this Shabbat bring comfort to those who are suffering.
Rabbi Rick Kellner