Tikkun Olam at Temple Beth Am

Connecting our congregation to social action opportunities

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If Obama Will Put His Neck Out, Why Won’t You?

Today, after many years of tip-toeing around the issue, President Obama finally endorsed marriage for same-sex couples, encouraged, perhaps, by his vice president and secretary of education’s bolder steps in that direction earlier this week, but more likely because he believes that supporting gay marriage is not only the right thing to do, but also smart politics, according to The Atlantic editor Steve Clemons.

So if he can do it, why can’t you?

Washingtonians will soon need to commit themselves one way or another, as opponents are moving to overturn the same-sex marriage law that was enacted by the state legislature earlier this year.  They are collecting signatures to put two separate measures on the ballot this fall that would effectively negate the law. We’ll know if they have enough signatures by early summer.

In the interim, the coalition supporting same-sex marriage in Washington state, which includes the active support of 23 synagogues and Jewish institutions, is asking supporters of the marriage law to match name-for-name the number of signatures opponents need to qualify those measures for the ballot.   We hope to gather at least 2,000 signatures from the Jewish community.

So please sign the cards, which are in a basket in the Temple foyer.  If you signed the previous petition in February, you may sign again.  Alternatively, you can sign an online petition, here.

So when you’re thinking your position on this issue, consider the impact of Obama’s simple action, as described so eloquently by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni:

“I find myself thinking about all the teenagers and young adults out there who cower in silence because they worry about being ostracized if they speak the truth about their sexual orientation. I think about the ones who are bullied, even the ones who contemplate taking their own lives.

And I think about what it will mean to them to hear the president say what he did today, not because they’re focused on marriage but because they’re buoyed by any and every reassurance that there’s nothing wrong with them, nothing inferior about them. Today their president gave them that reassurance.”

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No “Pinkwashing” Here; Israeli LGBT Leaders to Discuss Achievements, Challenges

In all the hullaballoo over gay marriage in the U.S. these days, we forget that there are some countries that have made considerably more progress on LGBT rights. Israel, for one, is the only country in the Middle East and even Asia to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. They cannot be performed in Israel, however. Nor can inter-marriages (between those of different religions) or non-religious marriages, for that matter.

Israel was also the first country in Asia where gays were protected by anti-discrimination laws, and remains the only country in the Middle East to provide such legal protection. In most others, homosexuality is illegal and often punishable by corporal punishment, prison, or even death.

Between March 14th and March 17th we have many opportunities to learn from Israeli leaders in the LGBTQ movement at several venues, including Temple Beth Am:

On Saturday, March 17, Iris Sass-Kochavi, a leader with Tehila (Israeli PFLAG–Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) will speak about Family Matters: New Generations of LGBTQ inclusion in Israel

Location: Temple Beth Am, 2632 NE 80th St. Seattle

Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM followed by potluck lunch. I hope you all can bring a dish and make the minyan. It’s a sweet, low key service with singing.  Israel, incidentally, is one of only 11 other countries to have a PFLAG chapter. No RSVP required.  

A full schedule of events follows:

All events listed below are public. Unless otherwise noted, please RSVP to LaurenS@Standwithus.com

Wednesday – March 14th
The Quest for LGBTQ Civil Rights – From Tel Aviv to Washington state. 
Location: Jewish Family Service, 1601 16th Avenue, Seattle
Time: 1:50 – 3:30 PM
RSVP to anniej@jewishinseattle.org.
Co-sponsored by Jewish Federation and Jewish Family Service.
Full event description: https://www.facebook.com/events/248831681872380/.

Building an inclusive LGBTQ community in a diverse and dynamic society 
Location: Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Ave., Seattle
Time: 6 – 8 PM
Community dinner @ 6PM (cost $5 – RSVP to front_office@seattlefirstbaptist.org)
7PM presentation and discussio – FREE.
Co-sponsored by Seattle First Baptist Church and Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue.
Full event description: https://www.facebook.com/events/363487657018214/

Thursday – March 15th

Puget Sound & Israeli LGBTQ Youth Leaders Professional Convening 
Location: First United Methodist Church, 621 Tacoma Ave S, Tacoma
Time: Noon – 3PM
RSVP to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LGBTQA
Co-sponsored by The Rainbow Center & Oasis Center.
Full event description: https://www.facebook.com/events/343039739072529/.

LGBTQ Life & Civil Rights in Israel presentation and discussion: The panel will share their thoughts on the fight for LGBT civil rights globally, in Israel, and right here in Washington State.
Location: Kitzel’s Crazy Delicious Delicatessen, 514 S. Capitol Way, Olympia
Time: 5-7 PM
Co-sponsored by Kitzel’s Crazy Delicious Delicatessen
RSVP to LaurenS@standwithus.com

Friday – March 16th

The Case that Changed Marital Rights in Israel: A presentation with Adir Steiner and members of the Alliance of Israeli LGBTQ Educational Organizations.
Location: Perkins Coie, 1201 3rd Ave., Suite 4800, Seattle
Time: 12PM – 1PM Brown Bag Lunch
Co-sponsored by QLaw – the LGBT Washington Bar Association
RSVP to LaurenS@standwithus.com

LGBTQ Life & Civil Rights in Israel presentation & discussion: Shabbat Service, Community Dinner & Discussion. The panel will share their thoughts on the fight for LGBT civil rights globally, in Israel, and right here in Washington State.
Location: Kol HaNeshamah: West Seattle’s Progressive Synagogue Community @ Alki UCC – 6115 SW Hinds St., Seattle WA
Time: 7 – 9 PM

Saturday – March 17th

Kol HaNeshamah Torah Study presentation & discussion
Location: Kol HaNeshamah: West Seattle’s Progressive Synagogue Community @ Alki UCC – 6115 SW Hinds St., Seattle WA
Time: 9:30 – 10:30 am

LGBTQ Life & Civil Rights in Israel presentation & discussion: Shabbat Service & Community Lunch. Adir Steiner who works for the mayor’s office of the City of Tel Aviv, will share his experience and thoughts on the fight for LGBT civil rights globally, in Israel, and here in Washington.
Location: Congregation Beth Shalom, 6800 35th Ave NE, Seattle
Time: 10am – 2:30 pm

Family Matters: New Generations of LGBTQ inclusion in Israel. Iris Sass-Kochavi, a leader with Tehila (Israeli PFLAG) will talk about LGBTQ family and youth support and community in Israel.
Location: Temple Beth Am, 2632 NE 80th St. Seattle
Time: 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM

FREE Screening of “Gay Days,” a documentary about the growth of the LGBTQ movement in Israel, followed by a panel discussion including Adir Steiner who is featured in the film.
Location: Temple De Hirsch Sinai, 1511 E. Pike St., Seattle
Time: 7 – 10 PM
RSVP to LaurenS@standwithus.com
Co-sponsors: Temple De Hirsch Sinai, Congregation Tikvah Chadashah, JConnect, NCJW Seattle Section, Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue, Herzl Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation, Temple Beth Am, Congregation Beth Shalom

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CANCELLED! Marriage Equality Day in Olympia, February 16

It’s not often we get to make an announcement like this.

Yesterday, the Washington State House of Representatives passed SB 6239, which grants civil marriage equality to same sex couples and protects the right of clergy to decide who they will marry.  Now the bill goes to the governor’s office, where it will be signed into law, rendering our lobby day moot.

So what’s next?  According to Zach Carstensen, Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the Jewish Federation:

  • Governor Gregoire Signs SB 6239.  The Governor will sign SB 6239 on Monday, February 13th at 11:30 am in Olympia, WA.
  • Community Marriage Equality Celebrations. Also on Monday from 5-7:30 pm, there will be a series of community events/celebrations to mark this historic moment and get ready for the likely referendum, locations tbd.
  • Kulanu: Jewish Values and Marriage Equality — February 16, 20120It won’t be happening in Olympia, but the program originally scheduled will still happen — slightly modified of course — in Seattle at Temple De Hirsch Sinai.  Anyone who is interested should meet at TDHS starting at 10 am.  There will be a brief service led by Rabbi Danny Weiner, followed by a campaign update, review of what comes next for the marriage equality effort, light lunch with text study, and will conclude with direct actions to support the campaign.  To register, please email Rabbi Aaron Meyer (ameyer@tdhs-nw.org).

P.S. check out Rep. Maureen Walsh’s fantastic floor speech from yesterday’s House debate.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UiGmgqW6ES8

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Marriage Bill Attracts Enough Support for Passage; Rabbi Jonathan Delivers “Firecracker” Speech

News reports say an additional legislator, Sen. Mary Haugen (D-Camano) has agreed to support the same-sex marriage bill, enabling passage!  According to the live reporting from the Stranger (Slog), our own Rabbi Jonathan delivered a “firecracker” speech at the hearing in Olympia today:

“There are times to look into our spiritual mirror and see that we are the ones who are oppressing,” Singer says… “I along with other religious representatives believe that the state is not only discriminating against same-sex couples but us as religious leaders.” Continue reading

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Join the Jewish community in supporting marriage equality

After several years of indecision, Governor Gregoire on Wednesday announced her support for legislation authorizing same-sex marriage in Washington. A bill is expected to be introduced to the legislature next week.

Temple Beth Am will be actively supporting the effort. We have joined the pioneering effort by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle to mobilize the entire Jewish community behind marriage equality. In the next weeks and months, we will tell you about opportunities to lobby in Olympia, to participate in community meetings, and how to make your voices heard. Continue reading