Sonoma County Pride Parade, Santa Rosa, CA – June 2, 2018. “The unexamined life isn’t worth living.” So said the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates. Despite its age, the validity of this quote hasn’t tarnished.

The question remains, however, “When do we get the chance to ‘examine’ our lives?!” Given all our responsibilities – social, work or family related – it’s hard to find the time to engage in this kind of reflection.  Comes Shabbat and, if we’re willing or able to follow the commandment, we have a day in which to reflect on our lives and on life in general.

One issue that confronts us as humans, as Americans, and as Jews is the issue of class discrimination. Our Torah states in Exodus 23:9, “Do not oppress a stranger; you yourselves know how it feels to be strangers, because you were strangers in Egypt.” In fact, more than ten times the Bible points out how important it is not to oppress the stranger and protect their rights in the eyes of the law. In essence, the Torah is telling us to be sure to avoid any discrimination on the basis of class – essentially to make sure that we should eliminate treating people as “strangers”!

We are all painfully aware of those members of our community who have been made to suffer in various ways – from shunning to taunting to physical abuse. They have been denied employment and equal housing opportunity. True, much has been done in States to address these issues. Nevertheless, there seems to be a prevailing mood among some groups regarding the issue of Gay Rights to turn back the clock.

So this coming Shabbat morning, June 2nd, I invite our Beth Ami community to march in this year’s Parade. I’ve also made the decision, with the full support our Beth Ami president Henry Cohn as well as our Religious Practices Committee, to hold a Shabbat Shacharit Service at Cancer Survivors’ (Fremont) Park for those who would benefit from participating. We plan to start at 10:00 a.m. Siddurim (Prayer books), taleisim and kippot will be provided for anyone who needs one. I anticipate that the service will conclude at 11:00 a.m., which is the time when participants are asked to gather.

Given the times in which we are currently living, I feel a special need for our congregation to support our Gay community. In this way I believe we come closer to achieve the inner Peace that Shabbat brings into our lives.

With blessings of Shalom,

Rabbi Mordecai Miller