Temple Israel is taking part in the Heartland Pride Parade on June 30, 2018, and all congregants and friends are invited to join this fun, family-friendly event. Organized by the TI Pride Task Force, our presence at the Heartland Pride Parade will show congregational support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) members and publicly demonstrate Reform Judaism’s values.

“One of our goals at Temple Israel and in Reform Judaism as a movement is that all people feel included and accepted for who they are,” says Rabbi Deana Berezin. “We are all created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and we each have within us a spark of Divinity. We strive to make sure that every person who walks through the doors at Temple feels that they are treated with dignity, respect, acceptance, and love.”

Plans for Temple Israel’s parade entry include a rainbow-hued chuppah, t-shirts, and a banner. We will walk alongside other congregations of faith, community organizations, and businesses that share our values, reinforcing a message of love and acceptance of our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors.

The TI Pride Task Force started under the lay leadership of Robert Friedman, a Temple Israel member who wanted to help organize our involvement in issues and events for LGBTQ+ congregants and allies. With the support of Temple Israel’s clergy and the Board of Directors, TI Pride hosted a Shabbat dinner in February and started planning for the Heartland Pride Parade after hearing great enthusiasm for the idea.

“This is an exciting effort to show that Temple Israel is welcoming and loving to all people regardless of age, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” Friedman says. “Part of our mission as Jews is to repair the world. Marching in this parade is a big step forward for love and equality not only in our congregation, but also in our community. It is only through solidarity that we thrive and this effort to march in the parade shows the solidarity of our congregation.”

There are many ways to join in the festivities and support TI Pride. Everyone is invited to walk the parade route with the Temple Israel group in the morning of June 30 in Council Bluffs, IA; mark your calendar now and a schedule for the day will be available soon. Please send an email to RSVP@templeisraelomaha.com to let us know if you’re planning to walk at the parade and to reserve a t-shirt. We also need volunteers to help at the parade, to carry water and sunscreen.  Look for a table in the Simon Community Court on upcoming Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings to sign up and pre-order your t-shirt.

After the Heartland Pride Parade, the TI Pride Task Force will continue hosting and promoting events for LGBTQ+ members and allies in our congregation and in the wider community. Contact Robert Friedman at friedmanrobert0708@gmail.com if you are interested in future opportunities or to learn more about our TI Pride Task Force. Or join us at our next task force meeting on April 22, at 10:30 a.m. at Temple Israel.