Today at the San Francisco Pride Parade, we couldn’t have been more proud!
42 teens from the URJ Camp Newman‘s Avodah session ventured into San Francisco to walk and celebrate. Adorned in their purple camp t-shirts, and led ably by Avodah Director Aaron Bandler (a future rabbi??), our 16-year olds danced Israeli folk dances up Market Street. As they carried a tye-dyed chuppah complete with glass to break, they exhibited additional pride as they marched on the heels of the New York State vote to legalize marriage equality.
We went to San Francisco to live out the values of Torah:
- B’tzelem Elohim – that we all are created in God’s image (Gen. 1)
- K’shoshim T’hiyu – that we are all holy (Lev. 19)
- Ahavat HaGer – love the stranger (36 times in the Torah).
Wonder why we brought our teens to the Pride Parade?
Because participation in the Pride Parade…
- Instills pride in themselves no matter what their differences.
- Offers chance to be boisterously joyful in public about being Jewish.
- For teens who are questioning their own sexual orientation, it makes them feel safer and more accepted, a major goal of NFTY’s GLBTQ Teen Inclusion priorities.
- Learn about and live out longstanding Reform Jewish positions on marriage equality and gay rights.
- Teaches them how to stand up for something significant.
- Bonds them together as a group.
- Provides a chance to meet lots of different people of all sorts of shaped and sizes and color and religions.
- Allows them to really let go and have unrestrained fun and joy in a safe and sober way in a public place.
- Gives the opportunity to wear their sillier clothes including green fishnet stockings, pink tutus and Mardi Gras beads.
Finally, as the real life follow up to the previous evening’s program on self-acceptance, this experience allowed each teen the opportunity to verbalized to themselves and out loud to their community, “I’m proud to be me.”
This blogpost was cowritten on the bus back to Camp Newman by Rabbi Paul Kipnes, Camp Newman Faculty Dean & Rabbi, Congregation Or Ami, Calabasas, CA; Rabbi Laura Novak Winer, URJ Director of Teen Engagement; Michelle November, Associate Director of Admissions, New Community Jewish High School, West Hills, CA; Alissa Robinow, Youth Advisor, Congregation Rodef Shalom, San Rafael, CA; Aaron Bandler, Camp Newman Avodah Director.