Last Sukkot, the Congregation celebrated an evening devoted to making Beth Ami more welcoming to the LGBT Community, called “Sukkah of Shalom.” I was one of several individuals who spoke about various aspects of growing up being gay or lesbian and what makes a community welcoming. The most memorable comments came from Arnold Drake, our Past President, who spoke about his son coming out gay. Arnold said that at the time that his son came out gay: “. . . . His son was considered sick by the medical profession, a criminal according to the law, and sinner according to most religious institutions.” Much has changed in the our great country and the world since that time and most educated people know that those old pre-conceptions that Arnold mentioned are untrue, hurtful and isolate wonderful people.

Arnold stated that his son is a patient man and over the years Arnold and his late wife learned much from their son. The Conservative movement within Judaism likewise, over the years, has learned much and today and is fully accepting of Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Transgender individuals. Beth Ami, for the more than 20 years that I have been a member has always been accepting of the LGBT community and I have always felt comfortable as a proud gay man here at Beth Ami. Yet, there is more that we can do to make Beth Ami more welcoming to the LGBT individuals and for that fact, welcoming to everyone.

Since the “Sukkah of Shalom,” we have formed a Keshet (meaning Rainbow) Committee co-chaired by Arnold and me. We are planning various events and the first one is to participate in the Sonoma County Pride Parade in Guerneville on Sunday, June 5th. We welcome everyone to join us on this day of Pride and Celebration for the LGBT Community. The parade is an easy walk and commences at a relaxing pace. We plan to arrange carpools since parking is a challenge in Guerneville on a busy day. I hope that many members will join the Keshet Committee for the parade to physically demonstrate that Beth Ami is egalitarian and celebrates diversity.

If you are interested in celebrating with the LGBT Community, please contact me at or at 415.497.2723.

—Henry Cohn