Has Or Hadash always been welcoming to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered people? Yes! Has Or Hadash been officially listed as a welcoming congregation so that people searching for a synagogue will know that? Not until now!
At the December (2008) Board meeting, the leadership of Or Hadash voted to become a member of the Yes!Coalition, an interfaith council of faith communities that welcome sexual minorities, their families and friends. The Coalition organizes the Guide to Welcoming Congregations, an online list of welcoming congregations throughout the five-county Philadelphia area. Until now, only 12 of 120 listing congregations were synagogues, and Or Hadash was not one of the 5 Reconstructionist congregations listed. [Note: Since December, the Coalition has expanded its listing to approximately 300 congregations, including at least 15 synagogues and Jewish organizations.]
The Coalition, which is a project of the Interfaith Working Group, undertakes projects that speak to the religious diversity and justice concerns of the LGBTQ community. In existence since 2001, Yes! has sponsored or supported several conferences, the interfaith New Freedom Seder, and the first Philly Pride Interfaith Celebration. The organization is currently undertaking a reorganization and outreach effort that will expand the Guide to Welcoming Congregations, activate a Speakers Bureau, and plan and coordinate outreach and events that will further the Coalition’s goals. To that end, Shelley Rosenberg, a current Board member and former president of Or Hadash, has joined the organization’s central council as liaison to the Jewish community.
It is also worth noting that Or Hadash is part of the Reconstructionist movement, which has been on record with resolutions supporting LGBTQ inclusion in its member congregations, rabbinical association and rabbinical college.
Now, Or Hadash can truly state: Yes, we are welcoming. And, Yes, we are actively reaching out and extending that welcome to all.
For more information see JRF's resources on LGBTQ inclusion http://jrf.org/node/1742, the YES! coalition website, http://www.yescoalitionphilly.org/, and the YES! Coalition outreach efforts featured in the Jewish Exponent, http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/18401/.
To visit Or Hadash in Ft. Washington: http://jrf.org/orhadash/