I have been thinking recently about the rainbow banners adorning many synagogues, churches, and other places of worship. Many display a variety of hospitable phrases: “All Are Welcome Here” or “LGTBQ Folks Welcomed and Accepted.” In many ways, I am delighted to see the attempts of religious communities to become and remain a space of solace and refuge for queer folks.

I am curious what we mean when we say that LGBTQ people are “welcome” in our community. In my mind, LGBTQ Jews have always been here. We have always been searching for spaces to pray, to educate ourselves and our families, to celebrate our love, and to plug into the incredibly messy, holy work of being a Jew in the world.

Our goal, I believe, is not to be “welcoming” to LGBTQ folks. These folks are not waiting at the fences of our communities to be let in; they are here. We are your synagogue’s members. We are chanting Torah and setting up the grape juice for kiddush (blessing the wine). We are the teens in your b’nai mitzvah program. We are the loved ones of your board members, the siblings of your synagogue president, the parent of your friends.

We are excited to introduce the Metrowest Jewish LGBTQ Education Collaborative, a joint effort of Temple Israel of Natick, Congregation Beth El of Sudbury, Temple Beth Am of Framingham and Temple Shir Tikva of Wayland, together with Keshet, OutMetrowest and JFS, to explore the LGBTQ Jewish experience. This adult education series seeks to engage community members for honest conversations regarding how we lovingly educate ourselves and one another to be a space of sanctuary for LGBTQ folks. With the help of Jewish texts, values and inquiry, we will be exploring terminology and experiences surrounding sex and gender, issues of gender neutral spaces, and reflecting on our own experience of being a gendered being in the world.

This series is open to anyone who is looking to be plugged into conversations of gender and sexuality, regardless of level of experience. All that is required is an open mind and open heart. We look forward to seeing you there.

Emily Rogal is a second-year Master of Divinity candidate at Harvard Divinity School. She is a birth and postpartum doula, a trained mikveh guide, and an educator of all things Judaism, gender, and sexuality related. She is a lover of fancy lattes, weird rabbinic stories, and French bulldogs. She believes in Jewish education as a laboratory to see with what parts of Judaism we want to engage in a lifelong wrestling match.

About the Gender, Sexuality and Relationship in A Jewish Context Series

All sessions will be in the evening from 7-8:30 p.m.

Session 1: Sharing Language—March 11 at Temple Israel of Natick

Session 2: Sharing our Stories—March 27 at JFS

Session 3: Building Safe Spaces, Part 1: Our Physical Spaces—April 4 at Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley

Session 4: Building Safe Spaces, Part 2: Our Liturgy and Prayer—May 9 at Temple Beth Am

Session 5: Coming Out: A Family Affair—May 22 at Temple Shir Tikva

Session 6: Making Jewish Life Cycle Events LGBTQ Inclusive—June 5 at Temple Israel of Natick

All sessions are offered free of charge. Reserve your spot using this form. If you have questions about the series or the collaborative, please contact the program manager, Stephanie Rohr, LICSW, at 508-875-3100 ext. 380 or srohr@jfsmw.org.



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