June 6, 2024

Pride = the Essence of Dignity

Benjamin Mann Chief Planning Officer

Our Federation team gathered on Monday afternoon for our first-ever Pride celebration at the office. Led by my colleague, Director of Welcoming and Inclusion Sharon Zucker and our Diller Teens Coordinator Max Kasler, we shared the important work we’re doing as part of our community’s Keshet Shivyon Equality Project to promote long-term and sustainable LGBTQ+ equality and belonging, learned some interesting LGBTQ+ trivia, and enjoyed delicious rainbow cake. 

Most importantly, we acknowledged how Pride Month, and equality all year round, are reflections of Jewish values. Here’s what I presented at the gathering: 

In Pirkei Avot, a tractate of the Mishnah, a collection of early rabbinic teachings compiled in around 200 CE, we read in chapter 2, Mishna 10… 

רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, יְהִי כְבוֹד חֲבֵרְךָ חָבִיב עָלֶיךָ כְּשֶׁלָּךְ 

Rabbi Eliezer says, “Let your neighbor’s dignity be precious to you as your own.” (Avot 2:10) 

Rabbi Eliezer articulated the Jewish value of kevod habriot, human dignity. The idea that we should make efforts to treat people in ways that honor the holiness of us each being created in the image of God and avoid actions and situations that cause others disgrace or humiliation.   

For me, Pride Month in the Jewish community is about upholding the kavod, the dignity, of LGBTQ+ identifying Jews. The Jewish value of kevod habriot calls on us to make sure that members of the Jewish community who identify as LGBTQ+ are offered every opportunity to participate in Jewish life and have a sense of belonging in Jewish communal institutions. I agree with Rabbis Elliot Dorf, Daniel Nevins, and Avram Reisner, who understand one aspect of upholding kevod habriot in this way. They write, “The essence of dignity is the equal ability of all people to understand their own identity and to choose their own life partner.”   

Federation’s efforts to welcome and include Jews who identify as LQBTQ+ in the Greater MetroWest Jewish community offer us an opportunity to live out the value of kevod habriot. Thanks to everyone for helping us to do just that.