Thank you again to the Human Rights Campaign for recognizing me at their Los Angeles Gala on Saturday night with the Community Equality Awards! What a wonderful soiree. The baseball player was my “date”. I was so proud to be there with him and so many good friends and temple members. And most of all to share this with my good friend Rev. Canon Susan Russell. Below are my remarks.
I am so honored to be here tonight to receive HRC’s Community Equality Award. Thank you Joe, Sharon and all of the HRC Family. I am especially proud to share this award with my colleague and co-agitator, rebel rouser and civil rights advocate Rev. Cannon Susan Russell.
Susan and I each in our own way, have challenged the injustice and the discrimination faced by LGBT people within our own denominations and the larger religious world ,our state and nation. As a rabbi I know that people still try to use religion and the Bible to defend and justify their bigotry. It is just wrong. And it is not religious or spiritual to condemn God’s creation. Judaism believes in a Higher Power of Love and Hope and that we all are created B’tzelem Elohim, in God’s Image. I try each and every day in the work of Justice making to spread that message that we are exactly as God made us. Don’t treat my Torah with such disrespect as to use it to hate or hurt.
I am grateful to HRC and its leadership both professional and Board for the vision to create the Religion and Faith Council. We can make legislative change and we can change laws in the courts this is critical. But to change real hearts and minds we also have to change the way religious communities think and feel and preach. HRC through the visionary leadership of Rev. Harry Knox and Dr. Sharon Groves our new Director of the Religion and Faith Department and our Religion Council have been changing the way religious communities and religious leaders talk and teach about GLBT issues in the pews! We are moving toward more inclusion, more religious communities and clergy speaking out for Gay and Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Justice!
I want to say thank you to my Congregation, Kol Ami in West Hollywood for their continued support. Thank you to my Board and the Temple leadership and Temple members who understand that rabbinic leadership is necessary to create such sweeping change within an ancient tradition like Judaism. I am honored to continue to serve as your rabbi and I am grateful for your continued support and invite others of you to join us in this mission and in community.
I want to especially thank my family as well: Karen and my wonderful son, Benjamin. My dear friends who are my family- you know who you are. Thank you for your support of the work that helps me live out the words of the prophet Micah:
What does God require of you? Only to do justice, love compassion and walk humbly with your God.
Each day this is what I try to do. And Together, family, friends, My congregation, my clergy colleagues like Rev. Susan Russell and the Religion and Faith Council and HRC helps me live this teaching. Thank you.