Within the walls of the Rashi middle school community, students constantly strive to create the just, inclusive and Jewish values-driven environment that they would like to see out in the world. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of inclusion of LGBTQ+ people. At Rashi, students learn from their first days in school that we are all created b’tzelem Elohim—in God’s image—and so they care for one another with a sense of holiness and love that is both fundamental and awe-inspiring. Students ask about bathroom signs and rooms on school trips. They research what political actions they can take to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion, and they appreciate each individual’s journey of discovering their place in the LGBTQ+ mosaic.
In October, ahead of the election where a proposal to curtail the rights of transgender people was on the state ballot, the middle-schoolers sat mesmerized as Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, an ultra-Orthodox man who fully and lovingly supports his transgender child, taught his Torah of inclusion and love for all people. In May, they were inspired as Rashi parent Amy Sandler shared the story of how she and her late wife, Nikki Quasney, took their fight for marriage equality in Indiana all the way to the Supreme Court. The students want to take the world as it is and make it into the world as it should be, and they can’t do it alone. They need the help of their teachers.
Community Partnership Enhances Our Efforts
A few weeks ago, five members of Rashi’s faculty and staff participated in a day-long training for LGBTQ+ inclusion. It was run by Keshet, a national organization for the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in Jewish life. That training began a year-long process of evaluating our school and the ways that we are inclusive and determining how we can be more inclusive. The Rashi School prides itself on living by our five core values: ruach (divine spirit), kavod (respect), kehillah (community), tzedek, (justice) and limud (learning). These values will guide us as we do this sacred work with Keshet.
It starts with Boston Pride on June 8. Rashi will proudly march in the parade, wearing shirts with our logo in rainbow colors. We will be students, parents, faculty and friends making an important, public statement: We are committed to creating a school—and a world—that works for the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in all aspects of life. This is one of many steps that we will take, that all Jewish and non-Jewish communities should take, to make our world a more just and inclusive place for all people.
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