Shehechiyanu Moment! Rabbi’s Message: SCOTUS Decision Day-Shabbat of Hope & Solidarity

Dear Beit Ahavah Community,

The historic decision was announced by the Supreme Court this morning ruling in favor of marriage equality.

This Shabbat is also declared as a Shabbat of Solidarity for Charleston, as the funerals have begun this week, and we remember the nine souls who were killed in a rampage of hate.  We stand with Charleston and all who have died in attacks throughout the world.

How do you feel right now?

An hour ago I heard the news, and I cried joyfully in my office.  I wrote to Jennifer Levi, our member who has worked tirelessly on gay marriage laws as a lawyer for GLAD, to say Mazal Tov.  Then my friend and colleague Rabbi Justin David called inviting me to share words or a song tomorrow to celebrate at CBI’s Shabbat morning service to which all are welcome, and to share his elation with me.  I then found myself turning on Ferron’s album Testimony on my computer — songs which had carried me in the late 80s and 90s with a vision of GLBT equality.  I scrambled through Facebook for updates and saw expressions of elation and joy.

But then I decided to take a moment to think, and went downstairs and took the Torah out of the ark, and sat with her quietly on the Memorial Room couch, and held her with all my might, as though hugging a small child, and wept for the amazing victory today and all it represents – even as I haven’t had time to process this change.  I thought of the amazing community we have at Beit Ahavah which has always opened its doors and heart to all with love, respect and celebration for who we are.

Friends, this is a Shehechiyanu moment.  The Shehechiyanu prayer is said at special and first times for things:

Blessed are you Adonai, our G-d, Creator of the Universe, who has kept us alive, and sustained us, and caused us to arrive at this time 

Baruch Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam, she’hechiyanu v’kiyamanu v’higiyanu lazman ha-zeh.

Today we invoke all those who have worked throughout their lives to bring about equality, freedom, dignity, justice and love.  In the Torah portion this week, Chukat, Miriam and Aaron each die in the wilderness after a full life dedicated to leadership, prophecy, vision, sacrifice, celebration and miracle in their 40-year journey leading to a new generation.  Like them, today we can remember Harvey Milk, the poets and writers, activists and people just living their lives, who have persevered in the vision of justice and love.

There is also a public gathering for Decision Day celebration at One Bar & Grill, 1 Pearl Street, Northampton, called for 7 p.m.  More details here and on our Facebook page.

May we feel profound connection as our hearts swell with pride, relief and joy for this historic decision in America.  May we ever be vigilant in our dedication to eradicating injustice, racism, oppression and suffering everywhere.  May our hearts break open to offer comfort to our brothers and sisters who were killed in Charleston during Bible study, and may we find our hope renewed to carry on with love and hope to build our world and country into a safe harbor of love for all.

Shabbat shalom of blessing and Mazel Tov!

Rabbi Riqi Kosovske