Tikkun Olam at Temple Beth Am

Connecting our congregation to social action opportunities

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Help Secure Marriage Rights for Same Sex Couples

We’re coming into the final stretch of our effort to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples.  Referendum 74 will appear on the November ballot, and asks voters to approve legislation passed by the Washington State Legislature and signed by the governor authorizing same-sex marriage.

Approval of Ref. 74 is not assured, so your efforts are very important.

Following is a list of some things you can do:

First of all, and most importantly, VOTE to Approve Referendum 74.  If you haven’t registered yet, go register.  Registration deadlines are Oct. 6 for mail-in registrations, and Oct. 8 for online registration.  You can register here.

Second, pick up a green information card in the Temple foyer.

Third, participate in a phone bank.  Temple Beth Am is hosting the “North End” phone bank every Wednesday and Thursday (after Yom Kippur, Sept. 26) from 5:30 to 8:30pm.  You need not be a TBA member (or even Jewish) to join in.  Volunteers will get training… and dinner.  Remember to bring your cell phone, and if possible, a laptop or tablet.  For more information, contact Diane Baer (drbaer11@hotmail.com) or Shelly Cohen (shellyfcohen@gmail.com).

Fourth, ‘pray with your legs’ on Sunday, Sept. 30, 12:30pm at Woodland Park United Methodist Church at N. 78th and Greenwood N.  Join people of faith from the Phinneywood neighborhood and beyond to demonstrate faith community support for marriage equality.

Fifth, check out Equal Vows:  Same-sex Ketubot in Washington State.”  It is the first art exhibit nationwide of same-sex ketubot (decorated marriage contracts) and features several Beth Am artists and couples.  It will take place at the Linda Hodges Gallery at 316 First Ave. S. (in Pioneer Square) on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 5 to 8pm.  For more information, contact David Jacobson (david.jacobson@earthlink.net) or check out the event’s Facebook page.


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99 Days Left to Work to Approve Ref. 74 and Maintain Marriage Equality

Hi Everybody —
We’re coming down the home stretch in the fight to retain the marriage equality law passed by the Washington state legislature.  This note is intended to alert you to some upcoming events and volunteer opportunities for the campaign to approve Ref. 74.  
Three Events
1) Jewish Family Service is hosting a discussion on marriage equality titled: Three Flavors of Marriage Equality.  It will be held at JFS’s campus on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Aug. 14. There will be ice cream too!  For more information, see:
2) Temple B’nai Torah is hosting an interfaith dialogue on marriage equality moderated by Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum on Wednesday, Aug. 15.  For details, see:  https://www.facebook.com/events/250206498412245/
3) And on Oct. 4, from 5-8pm, the Linda Hodges Gallery in Pioneer Square will be hosting a one-night exhibit of same-sex ketubot, the first such exhibit nationwide.  I am personally organizing and curating this event, so I hope you can all come.  For event information, see:  http://www.facebook.com/events/447797798575439
Phone banks
The Jewish Coalition along with the Faith Outreach Program of Washington United for Marriage will be contributing to the get out the vote phone banking effort of the campaign beginning in August by helping to fill two Thursday evening phone banks. 
The phone banking will occur on Aug. 23 and Aug. 30 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.  The Jewish coalition will help man the phone bank at Equal Rights Washington’s office downtown in the Vance Building (1402 3rd Avenue #201  Seattle, WA 98101).  This phone bank only has spots for 10-12 people so it is very important that people RSVP if they intend on helping. 
Anyone interested in helping to fill these phone banks should RSVP to: jewsformarriageequality@gmail.com   
For every phone bank there will be a training, food, and a debrief at the end of the phone bank.  Scripts and assistance will be provided throughout.  Volunteers will be calling undecided voters.
Best regards, 
David Jacobson
Temple Beth Am liaison to the Jewish Marriage Equality Coalition

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Talking Jewishly about Marriage Equality

In November, citizens of Washington state will vote on whether to approve Referendum 74 and thereby uphold the law enabling gay and lesbian couples to marry. This is a complex issue, and winning over undecided voters will require meaningful conversations on many levels – including faith-based values. TBA is hosting a training session to help you have those conversations in a Jewish context. Please join us.

Learn How to Have a Jewish Conversation
About Marriage Equality and Referendum 74

  July 24, 6:30-9:00PM
  Temple Beth Am K’hilah Center
  2632 NE 80th St.
  Seattle, WA 98115

When David Boies and Ted Olson received the esteemed URJ Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award at the URJ Biennial in 2011, they encouraged the thousands in attendance to go out and have conversations with neighbors, friends, colleagues, and family members to persuade them that marriage equality is consistent with American values, with family values, with strong community and with human rights. Boies and Olson, who were on opposite sides of Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court in 2000, have since joined forces in the effort to end what they refer to as the last vestige of blatant government sponsored discrimination in our country: denial of the basic right to marry for our gay and lesbian fellow citizens at the federal level and in most states.

Temple Beth Am and the Jewish Coalition for Marriage Equality are hosting an informal event with Boies and Olson’s advice in mind. Come learn what Judaism says about marriage equality and get some pointers about how to have a Jewish conversation on the issue. Adding the Jewish perspective to the faith based conversation that is filling the air is important, and each of us can contribute to the understanding that marriage equality is also consistent with Jewish values. Each supporter persuading even one undecided voter to support marriage equality with an “Approve Referendum 74” vote in November can make an important difference in the lives of Washingtonians.

For more information and to RSVP, click here.

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Marriage Equality on the Ballot this November

While we anticipated this day was coming, it is now official: marriage equality for loving, gay and lesbian couples will be on the ballot in November.

Temple Beth Am, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and twenty-five other Jewish organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Family Service, Union for Reform Judaism, Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center and the National Council of Jewish Women, support Washington United for Marriage and the campaign to defend the marriage equality law in Washington State. We support marriage equality as a matter of basic religious liberty. Clergy should be free to decide for themselves what couples they choose to marry. Continue reading


What does the Torah really say about homosexual acts?

We’ve all heard it too many times, with varying degrees of sincerity and textual analysis: homosexual acts are an abomination; the Bible says so. Period. End of discussion.

Fortunately, Judaism thrives on discussion. In furtherance of that, I wanted to share with everyone the d’var that was presented by a bat mitzvah on our very own bima at Temple Beth Am just a couple weeks ago:

My particular Torah portion, Achre Mot – Kedoshim, includes a multitude of rules that many people follow to the letter, word for word. Many people, scholars and lay people alike, have asked, “Should every rule of the Torah be followed to the letter?” My question is this: “Are we really reading them carefully enough? Or are we just depending upon one narrow interpretation about what they mean?” Continue reading

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Responding to controversy over the Israeli LGBT delegation

This afternoon I attended a meeting of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee of the Seattle City Council. Along with several leaders of the Seattle Jewish and LGBT communities, I was there to give public comment about the Seattle Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Commission‘s abrupt decision to cancel a planned meeting with a visiting delegation of LGBT Israelis. Continue reading

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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