News of the controversy over the planned gay pride march (eventually circumscribed to a rally in an enclosed stadium) in Jerusalem has left me with a mix of emotions. The violent reactions of those who opposed the march do not square with my notions of Judaism � even while I recognize that my �lifestyle� doesn�t square with theirs.
It�s much the same feeling I had years ago, reading about the women who were harassed for praying at the Kotel. Would I, a Jewish lesbian, be truly welcome (or even physically safe) in Israel? If not, what did that mean about my relationship with Judaism?
Fortunately, Seattle is for the most part a more accepting environment in which to be Jewish and lesbian or gay. I�ve long since found a comfortable spiritual home at a mainstream congregation here. My partner and I are active in the shul, and when the time comes for each of our kids to be called to the Torah, I don�t expect anyone there will blink twice over two moms (and no dad) on the bima.
Things are, of course, not perfect. What gives me hope is the progress I�ve seen in opening dialogue within the Jewish community. There are several congregations in the area that affirmatively embrace families such as ours. Jewish Family Service and other agencies regularly include programming for lesbian and gay Jews.
And it is my privilege to be a part of Bashert, an initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, to create a fully welcoming and inclusive Jewish community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews. After the violence and ugliness in Jerusalem, efforts such as Bashert are an important part of the healing that needs to take place.
Shelly F. Cohen
Co-Chair, Bashert Initiative