Pentecost 5C – You Are Free
June 19, 2016
Last Sunday was the Jewish festival of Shavuot –
a celebration of God’s giving of the Torah – the holiest of Hebrew Scriptures
(and the first 5 books of our Bible as well).
On festivals such as Shavuot,
Orthodox Jews refrain from things like television and internet.
A member of Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld’s congregation, Ohev Shalom in Northwest Washington
told him about the Orlando shootings sometime during the day.
At sunset, as the holiday ended,
Rabbi Herzfeld invited his congregation to come with him
directly from the synagogue to a gay bar
in an act of solidarity.
As Rabbi Herzfeld describes it,
he said he wanted to convey the message
that “we were in tremendous pain,
and our lives were not going to just go on as normal.”[i]
Rabbi Herzfeld had not been to a bar in 20 years,
and he’d never been to a gay bar.
The rabbi was told about a particular bar frequented by the LGBT community called Fireplace,
and a dozen Orthodox Jews, wearing their yarmulkes headed over to the bar.
As I heard an interview with the rabbi on the radio last night,
he said that it was his mother who broke the ice.
They were all kind of gathering outside the bar,
not exactly sure how to proceed,
whether or not they’d be welcomed into the bar,
when his mother approached a man standing next to the building.
She told him why they were there,
and the man burst into tears…
He said his cousin had been killed at Pulse earlier that morning.
They embraced, and together went into the bar.