Joint statement from CoH and BEB on UCC divestment resolution

Fisch Cazares

Rabbi Steve Fisch, left, and the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas

Joint Statement from Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas of Cathedral of Hope (United Church of Christ) and Rabbi Steve Fisch of Congregation Beth El Binah (Union For Reform Judaism):

We are proud of the important and caring alliance that we at Congregation Beth El Binah and the Cathedral of Hope have on behalf of the LGBT and larger community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Our respective congregations — one Protestant, one Jewish — agree completely on our philosophies and actions on behalf of all those who suffer from injustice.

However, we have deep concerns about the vote by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ on June 30 to approve Resolution No. 4 to divest from companies with business and to boycott products made in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. We believe the resolution failed to take into account the fullness of the complexity of the situation.

While we are in agreement that not all steps taken by the current Israeli government regarding the difficulties in dealing with their Palestinian neighbors have been the best decisions, the resolution appears to place the blame for problems in the region solely on Israel. Too many people continue to ignore Israel’s need to defend herself against governments united in their desire for the destruction of the Jewish State.

The United Church of Christ is progressive, open and affirming. However, from the LGBT perspective the resolution neglected to consider the treatment of LGBT folks in Palestinian-controlled territories who are refugees now in other countries because of the way the LGBT persons have been treated in Palestinian-controlled territories.

We believe these concerns make Resolution No. 4 shortsighted.

Our hope and prayers regarding the current conflict in the Middle East involve deep concern for both Israelis and Palestinians who are affected by the difficulties in this region.

While our two congregations cannot immediately create change in the Middle East, we pledge our respective efforts to help bring about peace and greater equality for all peoples, beginning here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

—  David Taffet

Purim — the gayest Jewish holiday

Purim is the gayest Jewish holiday — sort of Halloween and Christmas rolled into one. It’s the traditional gift-giving holiday (not Chanukah) and the day when everyone dresses up in costumes. Even Orthodox rabbis have ruled that it’s the one day during the year when men may dress as women.

The holiday celebrates the story of the book of Esther and follows the traditional Jewish festival theme — they tried to kill us, we triumphed, let’s eat.

Congregation Beth El Binah, Dallas’ LGBTS synagogue, celebrated the holiday with a party, costume contest and Mesopotamian feast. OK, so Mesopotamia is now Iraq, and Queen Esther was from Persia, which is Iran. Direct all complaints to the temple’s Vice President Gary Sinclair who organized the event. And the “S” in LGBTS stands for straight. Reform synagogues may not discriminate based on sexual orientation.

—  David Taffet

Beth El Binah hosts Pride-themed Shabbat

Dallas’ LGBT Jewish synagogue Beth El Binah is celebrating Pride month with a family and friends Shabbat June 22.

Rabbi Steve Fisch

Rabbi Steve Fisch said the congregation has been doing the Pride-themed Shabbat for many years but it is the second year the congregation has held it at the Cathedral of Hope.

Fisch, who joined the synagogue last June, will deliver the sermon at the Pride Shabbat for the first time. Calling his first year at the synagogue “the most fulfilling experience I’ve had as a rabbi,” he said his sermon will combine the Hebrew words for friend and family, chaver and mishpacha. The two words help form the word for life, chayim, he said, so his message will focus on the vital ties our personal relationships have in impacting and enriching our lives.

Although the event is called the family and friends Shabbat, Fisch said the theme reflects pride in life and how “we are truly fulfilled and our lives are complete” when we reach out to those who are important in our lives.

“In many cases we form families not only from our families of origin but from those people who surround us with love and they become more important in some cases then our family of origin,” he said.

He said having the Pride Shabbat was important because June is LGBT Pride Month and he wants members of the congregation to embrace their religion and sexuality. He said when people pride themselves on who they are they lead “full and enriching” lives, learning to accept themselves and share their lives with others.

“We want our family and friends to know that we’re very proud of our status and very proud of our religion and that we can combine the two,” he said. “We’re very proud of being liberal Jews and we’re very proud of being gay and that the two are very much intertwined.”

Beth El Binah’s Family and Friends Shabbat is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 22, at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road.

—  Dallasvoice