Each June, we honor the movement for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion, celebrate recent victories against discrimination and recommit to making progress surrounding LGBTQ+ issues in the future.
In this week’s Torah portion, Shelach-L’cha, we are reminded that reaching the Promised Land took the efforts of generations of our people, and we must stand on the shoulders of many that have come before us when it comes to making change for the LGBTQ+ community. I am thankful that we have many leaders within our congregation who speak out. One is Toby Resnick, our Bar Mitzvah this coming Shabbat morning.
Toby is a transgender teen who grew up at KI. Last year, he chose the name “Tobias” and the Hebrew name “Toviah.” We have seen Toby emerge through this change with joy and pride in who he is. I am thankful to Toby for being so open about his experience, patient with my change of pronouns from “she” to “he,” and for his enthusiasm in becoming Bar Mitzvah.
Toby relates this week’s Torah portion, Shelach L’cha, to his life by saying that “I am a product of many people’s struggles, and now it is passed down to me… the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, many generations of people have fought for the rights that I have today, and the fight is still going on today.” Toby says: “it is still difficult to be out of the closet at school without harassment and forget about coming out completely if you are anywhere in the middle or off the spectrum (gender or sexuality.) A lot of like in Sh’lach L’cha, the fight for being seen as an equal for the LGBTQ+ community is a generation long fight for a righteous and difficult cause.”
Toby answers the call of “Shelach L’cha” which means to be “Sent Out.” For his mitzvah project, he made a website for the kids at his school who need a safe space. It is called Montgomery County’s LGBTQ+ Community. He wanted to make an anonymous safe space to share experiences.
One of the efforts of our newly formed Inclusion Committee is to host a “Pride Shabbat.” Toby, along with others in our community will be honored and asked to share their experiences on Friday, June 15th at 7:00 p.m. Please join us for this very important Shabbat.
The book of Genesis teaches us, “we are all made in the image of God.” I am proud to say that our KI community is committed to full inclusion for transgender and gender non-conforming people and their families.
Cantor Amy E. Levy