June is Pride Month, and we at J. are proud to mark it with our second annual Celebrate Diversity issue, committed to representing the rich expanse of voices in our community. As Jews, we know all too well the dangers of exclusion from majority society and being singled out. We see diversity not only as a necessary part of a free and democratic society, but a vital one that we must defend.
In our cover story this week, we talk to local rabbis and congregational leaders whose gender identity does not fit the standard binary options of he or she. Some are transgender; one uses the gender-neutral singular pronoun “they” to refer to themselves. All are examples of Jewish spiritual leaders embodying the value of diversity for their congregations and the other people they serve. None has had an easy path, yet all exude optimism and good humor as they go about their business.
LGBT Pride Month has been celebrated since 2000, when President Bill Clinton signed the first federal proclamation declaring it so. President George W. Bush declined to sign similar proclamations during his tenure, but the June celebrations continued nonetheless, and President Barack Obama resumed annual proclamations in 2011.
It is deeply disappointing that President Donald Trump has not issued such a proclamation this year. Yet federal agencies including the Pentagon and branches of the Armed Forces are hosting Pride events, even as they are hampered from distributing materials related to the month by presidential inaction.
Diversity cuts all ways, however, and includes respect for a range of political opinions. When Jewish Voice for Peace activists disrupted the Israel Day Parade on June 4 in New York, directing their ire at the LGBT contingent, the group demonstrated an appalling lack of judgment at best. Many of the marchers were minors, some of them Orthodox and standing up in public for the first time as part of a supportive Jewish community. In a scathing opinion piece in the Forward, Jay Michaelson called out JVP for shaming these youths in front of their pro-Israel peers, committing “an act of violence against the most vulnerable in our queer community,” he wrote.
Just as conservative elements in our Jewish community are encouraged to respect gender diversity, so must progressives show respect for political diversity, as well as common human decency.
Shame on you, JVP, for this callous action.