Life Celebrated in Wake of Tragedy

An uplifting and joyous celebration of the LGBT community abounded throughout Temple Israel of Greater Miami’s Wolfson Auditorium during the 16th annual Pride Seder in the wake of the recent horrific tragedy.

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The seder, hosted by Ru’ach, Temple Israel’s LGBT havurah, was an emotional one to those in the room as it took place a few days following the shooting tragedy at Pulse, an Orlando gay nightclub.

“Approximately 110 people from every corner of the Miami community came together in peace, love and solidarity to celebrate our Pride Seder. Every year for 16 years we have gathered to tell the story of the LGBT struggle for liberation through the lens of the Passover seder,” noted Elizabeth Schwartz, who led the seder. “This year was especially poignant as we came to the end of the counting of the Omer facing the brutal murder of 49 precious LGBT souls. While the pain was palpable in the room, there was also a sense of strength and hope, that we will stand as one community against hatred in all its forms.”

The seder was a moving one to those in attendance who were united in camaraderie. Guests shared stories of achievements and hardships of LGBT Jewish life and celebrated with songs and prayers.

Rabbi Tom Heyn, Temple Israel’s spiritual leader, said it was “extraordinary” to see so many people, especially those of key organizations, from the community committed to rights, equality and inclusion at the seder.

“It’s a beautiful thing to see them celebrating together in the wake of such a horrific event,” Heyn said. “This would’ve happened regardless.”

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