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Florida Pride Seder: Celebrating Pride and Israel at 70

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the 18th Annual Pride Seder at Temple Israel of Greater Miami, co-sponsored by A Wider Bridge. Over 200 people filled the room for the largest gathering yet of LGBTQ Jews and allies coming together to celebrate both Pride and Israel at 70. Having just landed a few days prior from another successful AWB Mission to Israel, my emotions were still running high. As I took to the podium and looked out into the crowd, I was overrun with emotion and a deep sense of pride.

We have a lot to be proud of this year. We are nearing almost 50 years of pride since the Stonewall Riots. Israel has just celebrated her 70th birthday. Tel Aviv just celebrated 20 years of their pride. This was the 18th year of the Pride Seder at Temple Israel, and it was the largest gathering yet of this event. As I started to speak, I couldn’t help but think of how amazing this community is. The theme of the night, similar to the Passover Seder, was about remembering our story as LGBTQ people and renewing a sense of commitment to our tikkun olam. That we in particular as LGBTQ Jews and allies, have a unique part to play in shaping a better, brighter, and more inclusive future. This couldn’t have resonated more with me after just spending 10 amazing days with 30 outstanding LGBTQ leaders from all across the country, engaging with the LGBTQ Israelis who are on the forefront of advancing equality in Israel.

Photo credit: Rom Ozeri

I was deeply moved as we remembered pioneers in our community who are no longer with us, called out for full inclusion and justice, and committed ourselves to ensuring that the next generation will be able to grow up in a more open and welcoming environment. The contributions that LGBTQ Jews have made to equality in this country are absolutely remarkable; Harvey Milk, Roberta Kaplan, Edie Windsor, Evan Wolfson, just to name a few. The LGBTQ Jewish community has been on the forefront of advancing equality in this country since the night of the Stonewall Riots. We take this responsibility of repairing the world and being a light (a bright, beautiful, colorful light) unto other communities seriously. To have an evening dedicated to celebrating that, embracing our unique role, and being together as one community was a very moving experience for me.

Zehorit Sorek 

The pride seder also included video greetings from two Israeli LGBTQ activists:  Ofer Erez of the Jerusalem Open House and   Zehorit Sorek , who works for Hoshen – a LGBTQ educational.

Photo credit: Steve Rothaus

As we continue to move forward this pride season, we should be filled with a renewed sense of hope and resilience. LGBTQ Jews from North America to Israel are at the forefront of the fights for equality, not only standing up for our community, but working to create a brighter future for all marginalized communities. We should embrace our unique role in these fights for social justice and continue to move both our country and Israel forward. Last night, I remembered, celebrated, and embraced this role. Today, I continue to fulfill it. Thank you to Temple Israel for inviting me to such an amazing and empowering celebration. Together, as one community, we will move forward. Happy Pride!

Quentin Hill is A Wider Bridge’s Eastern States Manager of Programs and Development