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|Jews to come together to march in Atlanta Pride parade for first time|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|September 07, 2011 15:52|
Atlanta's Jewish community is coming together the day after Yom Kippur to march for the first time in the Atlanta Pride parade — and will also be treated to a meet-and-greet with pop artist Ari Gold, who will be performing at the fest.
Atlanta Pride is set for Oct. 8-9 in the park with the parade that attracts tens of thousands of people each year on Oct. 9.
For the past 10 years, there has been a Jewish presence at Atlanta Pride, including Rabbi Josh Lesser of the gay and lesbian-founded Congregation Bet Haverim presiding with other clergy at the annual Commitment Ceremony, and the Rainbow Center, a social services program of Jewish Family & Career Services serving LGBT people, having a vendor booth.
This year through the Welcoming Synagogues Project, a national effort to make synagogues more LGBT-friendly to members and new members, large Jewish synagogues The Temple and Temple Sinai along with Bet Haverim are participating in the Pride parade.
"This year with the Welcoming Synagogues Project, I am looking forward to a more vital Jewish Pride presence,” said Lesser, who is also the founder of the Rainbow Center, in a prepared statement.
“I am so grateful for my allies and colleagues at Temple Sinai and The Temple for sharing Pride; it will make this year's Jewish meet-and-greet with Jewish performer Ari Gold the highlight of the day," Lesser added. Gay and Jewish pop artist Ari Gold performs Oct. 9 at Atlanta Pride.
Rabbi Bradley G. Levenberg of Temple Sinai, a reform synagogue located in Sandy Springs, said supporting LGBT people is a "vital expression of Judaism."
"It is about living and behaving according to the principles of our progressive Jewish identity," he said.
And Rabbi Loren Filson Lapidus of The Temple, Atlanta's oldest synagogue founded in 1867, said members are responding positively to marching in the Pride parade and the Welcoming Synagogues Project.
"We are looking forward to participating in the parade along with other congregations and Jewish organizations. Being part of the Welcoming Synagogues Project is already having a positive impact on how we express our desire to welcome those who are seeking a congregational Jewish home," Lapidus said.
There was a bit of controversy that arose when Atlanta Pride announced its dates this year as being Oct. 8-9 to coincide with National Coming Out Day because Oct. 8 is Yom Kippur, the holiest day for Jews.
Jewish people and members of Atlanta Pride met to talk about solutions to ensure Jews did not feel left out of this year's celebration. Results of the talks include official an official Atlanta Pride invitation to Yom Kippur services with Congregation Bet Haverim and moving the date and place of the Commitment Ceremony from being held in the park during Pride weekend to holding it Oct. 6 at the W Midtown Hotel.
Rebecca Stapel-Wax, director of the Rainbow Center, said the participation of other Jewish organizations in Atlanta Pride this year is another step forward in having faith communities recognize and welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
"With so much oppression of GLBT people directed by some of the faith communities in this country, it is gratifying that this year we will embody the value of Tikkun Olam by standing up for others," she said.
"Seeing other faith communities supporting Pride for many years, the Jewish community is going to be struck by the warmth and appreciation Atlantans will show them for demonstrating their support.”
Top photo: Rabbi Josh Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim. (File photo)
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