Celebrate PRIDE with PHS!

In lieu of our annual Pride Kiddush, please join us on Friday June 26th (6:30pm) for a special Kabbalat Shabbat led by Adena Korn and l'chaims as we celebrate the LGBTQ community.*  
Zoom link or Meeting ID: 962 8700 0404

*In accordance with our policy update last fall, we invite women to lead Kabbalat Shabbat on select Friday nights. 

Korach & Pride by Deena Klein

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Korach, there is an incredible connection to the message of Pride, which many of us in the PHS community will be celebrating this weekend. 

During one of the holiest moments of the year, right before the blowing of the Shofar on Rosh Hashana, we find ourselves saying Tehillim perek 85 “Lamnatzeach Livnei Korach”/ “For the leader. A Pslam for the sons of Korach”. Not just once… but 7 times!

What is the significance of Korach at this moment and why does he merit such a holy opportunity? Korach is widely viewed as a Rasha for challenging Moshe Rabeinu.

When Korach comes to Moshe with a protest he says “The entire nation is holy and G-d is among them..why do you exalt yourselves over the congregation of G-d?”. This is famously viewed as a complaint.

But there is something very profound to Korach’s message. Korach was looking at the inner beauty and holiness of every Jew. Every Jew is holy and in the time of Moshiach, we will come to see that Korach was right, he was just was ahead of his time.

There are two aspects to our relationship with Hashem: Yediya & Bechira. 

  1. Yediya focuses on our inner essence. Hashem loves every one of us simply because we are his child. Unconditional love. 

  2. Bechira is about reward and punishment based on personal choices. 

At the holiest moment of the year- pre Shofar- we are reminding Hashem, with Korach’s message, that we are his children and he is our father. Don’t look at our actions, just look at a parent-child relationship and forgive us and love us. The Shofar sound which comes from our innermost selves goes to that same point. 

With this Shabbos being Pride, it is an opportunity to reflect on this precise message. What the LGBTQ community is asking from the Jewish community is to love us as people and as Jews, the exact same way that Hashem does. Don’t judge us by our actions, the same way we are not judging yours. We are all children of Hashem and we should treat each other accordingly. Look at each person’s Neshama and not at each person’s actions.

Deena lives with her wife Sima in Crown Heights. They're expecting their first child in August. 

Message from Rabbi Leener

Since the inception of PHS, our shul has always been at the forefront of reshaping orthodox attitudes towards the LGBTQ community. Despite the incredible progress and activism, this Shabbat is a fitting time to reflect on the tremendous amount of work still needed to make LGBTQ Jews feel safe and equal in our community. 

As an orthodox rabbi, I proudly celebrate PRIDE this Shabbat. Any moment that celebrates diversity, inclusivity, and equality deserves to be celebrated as it affirms the sanctity of every human being. The Jewish mission is rooted in protecting the dignity of the most vulnerable individuals.

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that every single Jew has their own letter in the Torah. Only that specific person has the ability to illuminate that letter with their infinite uniqueness. Therefore, just as a Torah scroll is invalid if just one letter is missing likewise when just one person is missing or excluded — our entire Torah is left diminished and incomplete. Full inclusion of the LGBTQ community is not an act of chessed — it’s a religious imperative. 

On this Pride Shabbat where rainbow flags will be flying all around the city, I’m reminded of the powerful teaching of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch that the rainbow assures us that the whole spectrum of humanity is united by God in one common bond of peace. As Rav Hirsch taught, “In all of them is found a refracted ray of God’s spirit.” 
Finally, to the LGBTQ individual reading this letter, I see you and love you. We need your voice.  
Rabbi Leener

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The Prospect Heights Shul · 235 St Marks Ave · Brooklyn, NY 11238 · USA