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PRIDE: THE MOST JEWISH, NON-JEWISH HOLIDAY

Pride – The most Jewish non-Jewish holiday

I’ve come to realize that Pride is the most Jewish non-Jewish holiday. Think about it. We’re celebrating the adversity we have faced in the past and constantly reminding the next generation through story telling what the real meaning of Pride is. We celebrate by throwing parades, parties and having a meal (somehow pride bunches are even longer than a Seder). We can’t even agree on the exact dates for Pride, heck in Orlando we moved our parade to October.

But probably most important is our willingness to ensure that our celebrations are inclusive and welcoming even for those not in our community. Think of the joy in having someone not Jewish attend your Seder. It’s not about converting them but instead being given an opportunity to share in one small slice of what it means to be Jewish. The same goes for having an ally attend a Pride event. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our pride for being in the LGBTQ community.

The LGBTQ community and Jewish community share a lot. From our constant fight against hatred towards us just because we are different, to our various sects and subgroups within our community each with their own unique identities.

But most imporant is that both the LGBTQ and Jewish communities view themsleves as an identity and culture. As Jews, most of us feel that being Jewish is more than just a religion, the same goes for being a member of the LGBTQ community. It’s just a community with cultures (and subcultures). And both often view this as a small but important part of their overall individual identity. I would struggle to define myself without mentioning that I’m gay or that I’m Jewish. Both are a huge part of who I am.

So on this Pride I encourage you to join in the celebrations but also take a moment to learn more about the LGBTQ community. This could be learning about why pronouns matter and adding yours to your email signature or yourZoom profile, understanding what it’s like to have two dads or two moms and encouraging your child’s school teacher to celebrate all parents in May (not just Mother’s Day), learning a little more about the LGBTQIA identities and what they mean, learning why there are various versions of the pride flag and hanging one at your house. I mean after all, it couldn’t be a Jewish holiday if we didn’t throw in more learning.

Happy Pride!

-Matt Broffman, Federation Board Member

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Statement Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando leaders on the death of George Floyd:

We at the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and its Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) are heartbroken and outraged over the death of George Floyd, an African American man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s pleas for his life as he lay handcuffed and helpless on the ground were met with silence by the police officer. This death is yet another in a disturbingly long list of inexcusable injustices that have been perpetrated against African Americans across the United States.
 

We call on people of all races, ethnic backgrounds and faiths to speak up now against the systemic racism that is a longstanding disgrace – one for which we all share responsibility.

As Jews we have seen how unchecked hatred can destroy millions of lives and haunt generations in its wake. Our tradition teaches us that all humans are created in the image of God. The Torah obligates us to not stand idly by.

The powerful words of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Weisel resonate at this time:

“I swore to never be silent whenever or wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

As a community of conscience, we pledge to all communities of color to work with you, not only to combat racism in all its forms, but also to remain vigilant in pointing out injustice and defending all its victims.

In the days since George Floyd’s death, we have seen tens of thousands of Americans peacefully take to the streets to demand justice. We stand with our fellow Americans and we will not be distracted by those who would take advantage of this righteous cause to further sow the seeds of discord.  Our collective future depends on this focused effort.

Our children and grandchildren are watching. Each of us has a responsibility to stand up and speak out against injustice and to join together in finding a constructive and peaceful path forward. In that spirit, we commit ourselves to the biblical call of “Justice, justice shall [we] pursue,” and the imperative of achieving a peaceful, just and equal society for all.

George Floyd should not have died. He, his family, African Americans everywhere and all who have suffered as a result of discrimination and bigotry are entitled to justice and freedom from hate. Today we stand in solidarity with them as we say, “Enough.”

We continue to work with our Jewish agencies, organizations, and synagogues to support the African American community.

Statement about death of George Floyd

We at the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando and its Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) are heartbroken and outraged over the death of George Floyd, an African American man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer. Floyd’s pleas for his life as he lay handcuffed and helpless on the ground were met with silence by the police officer. This death is yet another in a disturbingly long list of inexcusable injustices that have been perpetrated against African Americans across the United States.

We call on people of all races, ethnic backgrounds and faiths to speak up now against the systemic racism that is a longstanding disgrace – one for which we all share responsibility.

As Jews we have seen how unchecked hatred can destroy millions of lives and haunt generations in its wake. Our tradition teaches us that all humans are created in the image of God. The Torah obligates us to not stand idly by.

The powerful words of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Weisel resonate at this time:

“I swore to never be silent whenever or wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

As a community of conscience, we pledge to all communities of color to work with you, not only to combat racism in all its forms, but also to remain vigilant in pointing out injustice and defending all its victims.

In the days since George Floyd’s death, we have seen tens of thousands of Americans peacefully take to the streets to demand justice. We stand with our fellow Americans and we will not be distracted by those who would take advantage of this righteous cause to further sow the seeds of discord. Our collective future depends on this focused effort.

Our children and grandchildren are watching. Each of us has a responsibility to stand up and speak out against injustice and to join together in finding a constructive and peaceful path forward. In that spirit, we commit ourselves to the biblical call of “Justice, justice shall [we] pursue,” and the imperative of achieving a peaceful, just and equal society for all.

George Floyd should not have died. He, his family, African Americans everywhere and all who have suffered as a result of discrimination and bigotry are entitled to justice and freedom from hate. Today we stand in solidarity with them as we say, “Enough.”

We continue to work with our Jewish agencies, organizations, and synagogues to support the African American community.

Out of the Cave

Presented by Rabbi Joshua Neely

When Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yosei and Rabbi Shimon were sitting,
and Yehuda, son of converts, sat beside them. Rabbi Yehuda opened and
said: How pleasant are the actions of the Romans, they established
marketplaces, established bridges, and established bathhouses. Rabbi Yosei
was silent. Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai responded and said: Everything that
they established, they established only for their own purposes. They
established marketplaces, to place prostitutes in them; bathhouses, to
pamper themselves; bridges, to collect taxes from them. Yehuda, son of
converts, went and talked about their statements to others, and they were
heard by the monarchy. They said: Yehuda, who elevated, shall be elevated.
Yosei, who remained silent, shall be exiled to Tzippori. And Shimon, who
denounced, shall be killed.

He and his son, went and hid in the study hall. Every day his wife
would bring them bread and a jug of water and they would eat. When the
decree intensified, he said to his son: Women are weak-willed, perhaps the
authorities torture her and she reveal us. They went and they hid in a cave.
A miracle occurred and a carob tree was created for them as well as a spring
of water. They would remove their clothes and sit in sand up to their necks.
They would study all day. At the time of prayer, they would dress, cover
themselves, and pray, and they would again remove their clothes afterward
so that they would not become tattered. They sat in the cave for twelve
years. Elijah came and stood at the entrance to the cave and said: Who will
inform bar Yoḥai that the emperor died and his decree has been abrogated?
They emerged, and saw people who were plowing and sowing. He
said: They abandon eternal life and engage in life of doing. Every place that
they directed their eyes was immediately burned. A Divine Voice emerged
and said to them: Did you emerge to destroy My world? Return to your
cave! They again went and sat for twelve months. They said: The judgment
of the wicked in Gehenna lasts for twelve months. A Divine Voice emerged
and said: Emerge from your cave. They emerged. Everywhere that Rabbi
Elazar would strike, Rabbi Shimon would heal. Rabbi Shimon said to Rabbi
Elazar: My son, you and I suffice for the world.

As the sun was setting on Shabbat eve, they saw an elderly man who
was holding two bundles of myrtle branches and running at twilight. They
said to him: Why do you have these? He said to them: In honor of Shabbat.
They said to him: And let one suffice. He answered them: One is
corresponding to: Remember (Ex. 20:8), and one is corresponding to:
Observe (Deut. 5:12). Rabbi Shimon said to his son: See how beloved the
mitzvot are to Israel. Their minds were at ease.

Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir, his son-in-law, heard and went out to him. He
brought him into the bathhouse and tended to his flesh. He saw that he had
cracks in his body. He cried, and the tears fell from his eyes and caused
Rabbi Shimon pain. Rabbi Pineḥas said to Rabbi Shimon, his father-in-law:
Woe is me, that I have seen you like this. Rabbi Shimon said to him: Happy
are you that you have seen me like this, as had you not seen me like this,
you would not have found in me this. At first, when Rabbi Shimon ben
Yoḥai would raise a difficulty, Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir would respond with
twelve answers. Ultimately, when Rabbi Pineḥas ben Ya’ir would raise a
difficulty, Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai would respond with twenty-four
answers.

He said: Since a miracle happened for me, I will go and repair
something … Rav said: Jacob established a currency for them. And Shmuel
said: He established marketplaces for them. And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: He
established bathhouses for them. In any event, clearly one for whom a
miracle transpires should perform an act of kindness for his neighbors as a
sign of gratitude. Shabbat 33a