LGBTQ+ Shabbat

In honor of Pride week, Jay Tessler, queer-identifying Jewish Programmer, led Tawonga’s first ever LGBTQ+ Shabbat service this morning. 

In some highly observant Jewish settings, women and openly LGBTQ+ individuals are not allowed to participate in services. Today’s service gave a platform to those who have fought for the right to be themselves. 

The honor of an aliyah was open to any and all LBGTQ+ people who wanted to say the blessings before and after the Torah. A large number of campers and staff took this opportunity to stand up in front of camp. We finished the service by singing “All You Need is Love,” which felt especially touching at the end of this unique service. 

Jay reflected, “It was great to see such representation during the aliyah. That felt very meaningful to me and I think to many here. The torah portion was about women’s empowerment which was also fitting.”

Tawonga has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion. Our LGBTQ+ Keshet Family Camp weekend (which will run in August), founded over 20 years ago, was the first of its kind in the Jewish camping world.