Is everyone Homosexual at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco?
|Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, San Francisco.|
Article by Peter MenkinCome celebrate Shabbat with the queer liturgy from Siddur Sha’ar Zahav. Daven some Shabbat prayers to your favorite Broadway showtunes and queer anthems. This festive musical service will feature songs from our CSZ Chorus led by Cantor Sharon Bernstein!
Led by Rabbi Camille Shira Angel, Cantor Sharon Bernstein
with special Drash by Rabbi Camille Shira Angel
More than likely this reporter was wrong when he thought Attorney Laura Lowe would talk much about the Reform Jewish Congregation Za’ar Zahav where she was member and President of the Congregation. I spoke with her in July by phone at her office long enough to learn some bare bone matters of interest about what is a respectable collection of congregants who had the intelligence, theological knowledge, and even literary discipline to create their own Prayer Book for use in their happy Jewish Congregation. This is really something of an unusual, if not to say even formidable accomplishment. Well, I may be overpraising them, but you get the idea they did a big and special job.
To my way of counting, the Congregation was comprised primarily of Homosexuals and Homosexual couples. President Laura Lowe said not so.
Their Rabbi at that time, a woman who said she was the first Lesbian Rabbi to lead this Jewish Congregation, encouraged the group to write and publish the Prayer Book. She must have been more than Coach, with a capital “C.” She must have been mentor, Tutor, and certainly inspirational leader as the Rabbi to elicit this kind of work from a “bunch” of Jews who probably were essentially
possessing many real educations, skills, and professional careers. Of course, and stay with me on all of this, their “official” Reform Congregation was comprised mostly of Homosexuals.
If one goes to the internet and finds YouTube, there a search on the Synagogues name brings up many videos of the Congregation at prayer and at meeting. Use this keyword: Za’ar Zahav . That is the name of the Synagogue.
I am sure it is because that is the name on the building, that is the name on the website, and it is used many other places. Anyway, it works on YouTube, and I am not being disrespectful.
Unfortunately, I am a little thin on some matters of news and fact about this Synagogue that describes their location this way on their web page:
Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, the Congregation of the Golden Gate, is a historically LGBTQ synagogue. We are a progressive, diverse and participatory community that welcomes everyone who wants to create a Judaism that reflects our lives. Please join us for worship, learning and celebration at our home at the corner of Dolores Street and 16th Street in San Francisco.
I wrote an email to Laura Lowe requesting a second telephone conversation. Mine of July 15, 2015 was answered in one line by Laura Lowe: Please do not contact me again. Your email and our phone conversation make me uncomfortable and I do not want you to contact me or Sha’ar Zahav staff again.
She’d told me in our first and previous conversation at her office at Old Republic Title Company, 275 Battery St Ste 1500, San Francisco, CA 94111 that the Congregation was diverse, and not all homosexuals. Laura Susan Lowe, Real Estate attorney of 33 years also said that the Congregation had 200 members. I am not sure how she phrased the make-up of the Congregation, but it may have been more like this: “…Not just Gay, but others, too.”
Apparently, they are involved in an outreach to the Gay Community. Though the Synagogue is not in the famous Homosexual neighborhood where the Castro Movie Theatre is located, the Synagogue is in walking distance of that theatre. So I was told by a staff member of the Synagogue, since I was considering going to the Castro to review a film at the 2015 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
The Festival website says, “Following the Castro screening of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, attendees are invited to attend a post-film discussion at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav led by Morgan Blum-Schneider, Director of Education at the JFCS Holocaust Center…” I did not review the film, nor go to the Castro to see it, unfortunately. The Film Festival had many wonderful films, by the way, this year. I missed them all!
The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Public Relations people were unable to supply me with a short trailer of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. Here is a different film about German Concentration Camp activity and their Jewish Holocaust. This one did not show at the Film Festival as far as I know. I took it off YouTube, discovering the documentary there. The JFCS Holocaust Center in San Francisco was not available to help choose either film or trailer for this Church of England Newspaper story.
Morgan Blum-Schneider, Director of Education at the JFCS Holocaust Center wrote in an email dated July 17, 2015 to this writer, Peter Menkin, “My marketing department has requested that I decline an interview with you.” I was unable to request a trailer or video on the Holocaust. Hence, this YouTube video on the matter directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is titled, An Alfred Hitchcock documentary on the Nazi Holocaust.
The Prayer Book is an important part of their worship, if their website is an indication, for it looks like it is used frequently by the Congregation. Stay with me to read two selections from the Book. These appeared on the website, and were not my choice, but that of Sha’ar Zahav to show off the content and work on the book. The Synagogue’s website is found here: http://shaarzahav.org/
(The quotation from the Congregation’s website are from the Prayer Book as selected by the Congregation. They are set off in Italics below.)
This prayer – as well as many others which speak to broader inclusion, LGBT awareness and the richness of our Jewish tradition – can be found in Siddur Sha’ar Zahav, © 2009 Congregation Sha’ar Zahav.
To secure your own copy, please go to http://www.shaarzahav.org/s
Siddur Sha’ar Zahav is the first LGBT Prayer Book for every occasion.
Siddur Sha’ar Zahav includes services for Shabbat evening and morning, weeknights, and all the Jewish holidays.
Siddur Sha’ar Zahav is the first truly 21st Century with:
- Reading on discovering your sexual orientation • Marriage equality blessing • Blessings for non-traditional families • Entirely new translations of ancient texts • Jewish poetry from all over the world • New Prayers with LGBTQ themes • Prayers for non-believers and agnostics • Transgender Day of Remembrance prayers • Essays that re-imagine our most cherished texts • Commentaries relating liturgy to our lives today
Congregation Sha’ar Zahav is a progressive Reform synagogue, established in 1977, that honors and maintains our LGBTQ culture and history.
—We create a Judaism that speaks to our lives. —We are collaborative and participatory, cultivating a sense of ownership and inclusiveness. —We are deeply rooted in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer sensibilities. —We’re queer in all the most interesting ways, bringing pride, passion, play and laughter to everything we do. —We value l’dor vador – generation to generation. —We are egalitarian. —We welcome the “other,” seeing the face of God, b’tselem Elohim, in everyone. —We do not conform. —We are haimish kehilla kedosha, a welcoming holy community. —We transform ourselves and the world around us. —We are engaged in repairing the world. —We are leaders. —We value civil discussion of disparate views. —We are responsible for each other.
Congregation Sha’ar Zahav is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism
Regarding the Supreme Court Decision to allow Gay Marriage Across the Land, Sha’ar Zahav wanted its children to create and their special celebration of this event that was so important and wonderful to this Synagogue. The cry of Congregation leaders, or slogan if you will, was Let’s
Celebrate Marriage Equality Across the Land!
They had their children dance, or they let their children dance, could also be said. This reporter assumed that almost all the children were those of Homosexual couples. I could not confirm this because of the forbidding nature of being denied access to the Synagogue or its members.
Of course, I did email their brand new Rabbi Ted, yet had no reply to this day of Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Nor a phone call from him, or anyone at the Synagogue. They did and do know a story was being written about them for Church of England Newspaper, London. Their President, Laura Lowe also knew of the story for Church of England Newspaper, London. This is that story.
Sha'ar Zahav's reaction to the Supreme Court 5-4 decision in favor of love!
It appeared to me that the prayer below was important to the Congregation. It comes from the Prayer Book created by the lay men and women of the Synagogue and that Prayer Book was published 2009 by the Synagogue. It is a beautiful book, judging by the picture on the website. This quote of the prayer is also taken from the Synagogue website. This reporter believes it is a good prayer for the simple reason that it fits a Jewish sense of remembrance and concern for those who came before them in their families, among their friends, as ones who shared their faith. Note that in the United States of America Jews are not considered a race.
O God, remember today those members of our family who were martyred in years past because of their sexual or gender identity: those murdered by fanatics in the Middle Ages, those who perished in the Holocaust, and those struck down in our own cities, in our own time. Remember also those who took their own lives, driven to despair by a world that hated them. And in mercy remember those who lived lives of loneliness, repressing their true nature and refraining from sharing their love with one another. O God, watch over the souls of these beloved ones: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and help us bring an end to hate and oppression of every kind.
“This prayer was composed from an amalgamation of sources in the earliest years of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, by members who recognized the importance of remembering those for whom Kaddish may not have been said.”
“The phrase ‘in our own cities, in our own time’ was added in loving memory of San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected public official, immediately following his assassination on November 27, 1978.”
When thinking about this prayer as a prayer in a prayer book, it seems to me that it is mostly a contemporary statement and request that lacks a sense of the eternal. These are current concerns, and they are to my way of thinking without a perspective of the man-God relationship in time. In another words, to say what I think in more popular terms, the matters about which people speak to God are very current affairs—limited in their scope and sensibility.
No matter. Everyone in tandem saying this prayer is speaking to God and make their same request and similar dialogue of life, interest, and I would guess entry into relationship with the almighty. Or so anyone would hope of someone with an interest in attending legitimate worship hopes. I’m even of a mind that starting a dialogue of any kind with one’s idea of what is God is a good thing. But that is not what is what I have to say about what I’ve seen of the Prayer Book. I’ve not seen one in real-life. I did not get to visit the Synagogue. They would not allow me to visit, if the reader recalls what was written earlier. They had no hospitality for any possible visit by this reporter of any possible kind. No one would talk to me by phone about the Prayer Book at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, San Francisco.
As I looked through the Synagogue website, I saw this notation and it fits here so well. It speaks to who wants to go to worship at, and be a member of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav.
” From the Membership Application…Who may be a member:
“Any person who accepts the purposes of this congregation who is not an adherent of another faith, is eligible to join as a MEMBER OF THE CONGREGATION.
In Nazi Germany, Jews were considered a race. Hitler said Jews were a race. He said there were Aryans and they were a race. Scientists argued that there was no race known as Aryan. There is a Negro race. One can trace their DNA through time into antiquity. The same for the Chinese. There is no Homosexual Race, or Gay Race by this measure. There is a Caucasian race. I am Caucasian. I am also white skinned. Having white skin is not an indication of race in the scientific sense discussed here. It certainly is an indication of race of one is talking about the Aryan race as Hitler spoke of it, and as did his various cronies in hate and interests in Satan. That is my understanding. If I am wrong, set me straight.
There is no Jewish Race by this scientific measure of testing the blood, or understanding DNA. This argument about race raged for decades into a kind of frenzy of hate and even murder, to say nothing of war. In fact, the Americans with their allies built a peace with the Germans on the subject of race and hate, winning World War II unconditionally in a manner that began the final beginning of the end of this insane belief of the Aryan nation and the Thousand year Reich of Adolph Hitler.
Apparently in the United States today this argument over race continues, and the War of the States, or Civil War, continues to be fought. There is a saying in the United States regarding the Civil War that was won by Union Forces against a superior Army of fighting men, and fine Generals and their soldiers of the Confederate Forces: One man in our time in America might ask another in certain situations of conflict over the kinds North-South issues like take down that Confederate Flag, “Are you still fighting the Civil War?”; Or, “Are you fighting the Civil War over again?”
That war is long ended for this young American nation, and it is gone to history. For some it was a war about race, and not really anything to do with the freeing of the slaves. Not really; it is not about race itself, not in a fuller sense of what the Civil War was fought about.
The flag of the Confederate Army is being torn down and even desecrated and hated. It is being destroyed, perhaps with the hope it will be wiped from the historical memory of contemporary Americans. So the war is fought over again, one could say. And it is not a flag of the South. Nor was it really a war of race, but about slavery, to a greater and greatest extent. Are we to forget the lessons of why we fought this Civil War.Our hope is to end this war, and not continue to fight it. We want to continue these united states. Here we want the lessons of history, for the lessons of history always serve us well, and we need them.
Abraham Lincoln declared and spoke about the valor and ability of the fine forces of the Confederacy from the White House lawn when Victory was had by the Union Army in that war. So the radio says today, and that is how I remember it from my earlier school days. It is sad that Lincoln is not held in the kind of American historic esteem by Americans as he was held, nor understood as a great unifier of the nation anymore. The reasons for unification seem to be forgotten, or no longer articulated.
To reiterate. A great many people in the United States want to fight the Civil War again and make people in the South destroy their Confederate Army flags. “Take them down!” is a cry of the Democrat, and the Liberal in another extreme act of politic division now taking place. It is said this is a Black American movement for justice and peace. And it is not just what are called African-Americans, who were brought here as slaves and are Negroes who want this movement.
Jews are not a race, not in the United States. We fought a terrible Second World War where that was an important part of the historic argument for that war against Hitler and his allies of hate and Satan.
Nazi Concentration Camps Uncensored - Part 2
Dachau Concentration Camp
Dachau concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager (KZ) Dachau) was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany, intended to hold political prisoners. It is located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the medieval town of Dachau, about 16 km northwest of Munich in the state of Bavaria, in southern Germany. Opened in 1933 by Heinrich Himmler, its purpose was enlarged to include forced labor, and eventually, the imprisonment of Jews, ordinary German and Austrian criminals, and eventually foreign nationals from countries which Germany occupied or invaded. It was finally liberated in 1945.