Looking for an LGBTQ-friendly congregation for the High Holidays?
Check out our latest updated list of congregations and rabbis here and our exclusive interactive map.
And, if you are looking for a welcoming Orthodox congregation, check out Eshel’s Welcoming Shuls Project here -- you'll find several of those shuls here in Baltimore.
Eshel Baltimore/DC Meet Ups
Baltimore/DC Parent Meeting
September 26, 2018 • 7 - 8:30 pm
For traditional Jewish parents of LGBT+ people who may be struggling with their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity and/or wish to connect with other parents like themselves. RSVP for location and fill out the contact form for future dates.
PFLAG Monthly Meetings
PFLAG offers all kinds of resources, as well as several kinds of monthly support meetings in both Howard County and Baltimore County.
Howard County Meetings Location:
Owen Brown Interfaith Center, 7246 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD 21044
Baltimore County Meetings Location:
The Church of The Holy Comforter, 130 W. Seminary Avenue, Lutherville, MD 21093
This group is for Orthodox Jewish parents with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children seeking peer support. We will also discuss ways to help parents and families navigate in their communities and to become advocates for their children.
This group meets by phone conference call at 6 PM PT/8 PM CT/ 9 PM ET on the first Wednesday of each month. If you are interested in participating and receiving the call-in number, or have questions, write to email@example.com
Don't Give Your Power Away - An Intergenerational Conversation
If you become unable to speak, who would make your medical decisions? Why is it so important in the LGBTQ community? The importance of it being your voice in making your decisions and making sure they are heard. Join us to stay vocal and learn how to have your wishes honored. Register here.
Three Centuries of Queer Annapolis — LGBTQ History Walking Tour
What do we really know about the queer men and women who lived in the past? Free State Justice invites you to take a tour of downtown Annapolis that will focus on the lives of LGBTQ people in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. You’ll hear about the private life of a Revolutionary War general, a possible “Boston marriage”, how certain people lived as a gender that they weren’t born with, and many other stories of individuals all over the spectrum. The walking tour will be about an hour long, followed by a reception at the Hammond-Harwood House garden from 5-7 pm. View the Facebook event
Save the date for these national conferences!
Eshel Parent Retreat
November 16-18, 2018
Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center, 5425 Mt. Gilead Rd., Reisterstown, MD 21136
Eshel has announced that their next annual national Parent Retreat for Orthodox Parents of LGBTQ Children will take place in the Baltimore area! View details here
Baltimore City confirms gender reassignment surgery for city employees. Read more here.
JQ Baltimore is pleased to highlight a message of inclusion from one of our local clergy. This message is brought to us by Rabbi/Hazzan Rachel Hersh at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation.
The heavens are transforming themselves
To the eyes of all of us watching from below
The neighbors are preparing themselves
For the Days of Awe (lit. Yamim Nora’im)
I have already seen the seasonal bird [making its fall flight]
Or maybe it just seemed that way
Come home quickly with the cool wind.
Excerpted from the poem “Song of Tishrei” by Rachel Shapira
This beautiful Hebrew poem comes forward in my consciousness every year at this season, its refrain calling to the reader: come home. In Shapira’s poem, the command to return is tied to the cycles of nature -- the skies are changing, the birds are traveling -- and to the other seasonal shifts that respond to the natural cycles. It is homecoming season. Many are returning from summer travels, camp experiences, quieter work seasons. Schools are gearing up for the start of another year. And we who follow the rhythms of the Jewish calendar are being called to come home to our Truest Selves, to participate in the practice of t’shuvah, spiritual return. This includes coming to see ourselves more clearly and to own up to our blind spots, our missteps and our misdeeds.
This year, the homecoming theme will have a new nuance to it for me, and, I hope, for our synagogue community. This summer, we welcomed one of our young adult members to the bimah for a special aliyah in honor of their coming out to the community as gender non-binary and also claiming a new name and pronoun. This young person, whose family has been centrally involved in the life of our community for many years, and who has been a regular participant in our weekly Torah discussions, spoke to us about what it means to come out. They said that understanding their own gender identity with full clarity was a homecoming experience. They said they felt enormous relief when they learned that being gender non-binary was “a thing”, since it was the way they felt since young childhood. They shared about the loving response that came from their parents, older sibling and extended family when they made this announcement. So far so good...
Then this young person spoke with great courage about the enormous challenge of being an active participant in a community which knew them as a “she” when their own reality was different. They shared how much our community had been a home for them, but from which they had to withdraw in order to be fully their-self. And, they asked us to see that truth and invite them back into full participation. Our response is a full-throated “yes!”, and a request for patience while we reorient our own unconscious assumptions, reeducate ourselves and acclimate.
It was a powerful lesson for us about what it means to come home. I pray that our young friend knows how wide the door is open for them and for others who’ve suffered similar kinds of alienation from their home bases. And I pray that we who inhabit the home to which others yearn to enter will commit to widening the doorpost. The mezuzah will still fit.
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