Reflecting on the year 2013, October 21 stands out as a momentous day. This was the date when same sex marriages became legal in New Jersey. I still remember my heart swelling with pride that at last, gay couples could finally marry in our state. Though the country still has many more states to go to reach full justice, more states followed suit since then. I’m hoping 2014 will bring more good news in many states.
Good news is a great way to start off 2014. I was thrilled to learn that my friend, Rabbi Miri Gold, is finally receiving a salary from the State of Israel. Miri, who visited TBA in 2012, was the poster child for the Reform movement in Israel in her court case to get equality for liberal rabbis. In Israel, Orthodox rabbis have always been salaried by the State. But not until now have any liberal rabbis received a salary from the State. The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC)under the direction of Anat Hoffman has worked tirelessly for civil rights and justice for all and worked closely with Miri on the court case. http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.566438
Anat Hoffman is also a director of Women of the Wall (WOW), a group of women in Israel and from around the world who have been trying to pray in peace each month at the Kotel to celebrate Rosh Hodesh, the new Hebrew month. Today is Rosh Hodesh Sh’vat (which means Tu B’Shvat, the new year of the trees is in two weeks) and again, women gathered to worship at the Kotel in Jerusalem. [To get a background about this group, see my Rosh Hashanah 5774 sermon] Today, the women were again not permitted to be carry the Torah scroll to the Wall. This is discrimination. This is an injustice. Women and men should all be allowed to pray freely. One sect of Judaism should not control everyone else.
As I look ahead to this secular new year, there are challenges to address and much work to be done. But it is also important to recognize accomplishments and successes to celebrate. And so today I applaud my friend Rabbi Miri Gold and bask in New Jersey’s entrance into its first full year of marriage equality. I am proud to join in efforts to take steps towards equality.