Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fabulous Israelites and New Yorkers Should Be Able to Get Married

As I have mentioned before, I am a member of the steering committee of the Reform Jewish Voice of New York State. We do lots of progressive social justice type things up in Albany and around the state. We recently launched a major campaign for Marriage Equality. You will notice a nifty little banner ad to the right side of the blog. (look, it is there).

Last weekend, to help launch the campaign, I spoke at Temple Israel of New Rochelle at a rally for marriage equality. Below is my speech.

I thought I would take advantage of my new found web-traffic (Thanks to the always interesting New York City Council for the uptick) and ask you all to take part in this campaign. You don't have to be Jewish (but it helps if you live in New York State). So if you do live in New York, PLEASE visit and send a note to your State Senator. Every voice counts in this fight for rights and I would be honored to have you take part in this battle.

Ma tovu ohalecha Yaacov, mishcanotecha Yisrael?

How goodly are your tents oh Jacob, your dwelling places Israel?

Tents. Dwelling places. This is not a blessing just for Jacob, this is about all of our tents and dwelling places; all homes, all congregations. Even in the days of the Israelites wandering in the desert, it was clear that the people of Israel were a diverse group, a group that is beautiful and powerful because of our differences. There were a lot of people following Moses through the desert...odds are at least a few Israelites were just a bit more fabulous than the others.

Every day, Jews around the world utter the words of Balaam to start their morning, by way of reminding themselves that in fact that Jews are a blessed people. Our blessing is multifold. We here today are blessed to live in a free country, a place that allows us to embrace our faith and traditions. We live a place with purple mountains and majesty. A place where the individual and the community are sacrosanct. We live in a country with a history of struggles and civil rights. And we live a state that is willing to listen to our complaints about inequality, if we are willing to speak up about them.

That is why I am here today. My name is the dcc and I am a straight married man who stands for marriage equality. I am also proud to be a Reform Jew who is actively engaged in the mitzvah of pursing justice for our community members who are systematically denied thousands of federal and state protections because of who they are.

I am a member of the Reform Jewish Voice (RJV) of New York State steering committee, co-sponsors of this event. RJV aims to engage congregations as advocates for progressive social and economic policies at the state level. Through conferences, advocacy programs and events like this, RJV interacts with more than 100 Reform congregations in New York State with nearly 100,000 members. RJV brings Reform Jewish values and the spirit of tikkun olam to state policy makers through this extensive network of individuals and congregations. And we want to help bring your voice to our state capital.

Just last week we launched a new campaign for marriage equality in our state. The progressive Jewish community of New York aims to become a key player in the ongoing fight for equality in our state, but we need your help. Please log on today to and send a letter to your state senator. (don’t worry all you need is an email and a zip code, we take care of the rest.)

We cannot be silent. We may be blessed but we must take part in ensuring our blessing continues and that takes hard work. It takes action. And I thank you for your help as we continue to pursue justice so that we once again can share all our blessings with all the tents and dwelling places of our land.

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