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Celebrating Pride in a Pandemic: A Round-Up From the JCC Movement

by Jane E. Herman

Recently, in preparing to write this blog post, I asked JCC marketers to “please let me know how COVID-19 has affected your Pride Month events and activities. Tell us about the pivots, the innovations, the partnerships, and the JCC Movement’s ongoing support and allyship of the LGBTQ+ community—despite the pandemic and alongside BLM.”

Despite racial unrest, the ongoing pandemic, and the resulting closures, layoffs, furloughs, and efforts to reopen, at JCCs from coast to coast, our movement is ensuring that during this Pride Month—and all year long—the LGBTQ+ community is recognized, acknowledged, and celebrated.

Here’s a quick round-up of various ways some of our JCC communities marked the occasion online this year.

  1. In Denver, the Staenberg – Loup Jewish Community Center partnered with Judaism Your Way and JEWISHcolorado, other Denver-based Jewish organizations, to host an online Pride Shabbat service, Pride Shabbat aLIVE. The service was led by five LGBTQ+ female rabbis and, because the event coincided with Juneteenth, included prayers written by LGBTQ+ Jews of Color. Following the service, attendees could join online breakout rooms for more intimate discussion.
  2. Pride Shabbat services also were held at The Edlavitch Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C., where Pride Tot Shabbat and Pride Happy Hour and Havdalah, the latter of which is part of GLOE, the Edlavitch JCC’s year-round LGBTQ+ outreach and engagement initiative, were part of the celebration.
  3. The Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City, CA, offered an array of programming throughout Pride Month as part of its #PJCCPride initiative, including a virtual screening of the award-winning film, “Gay Chorus Deep South,” along with anecdotes and perspectives from a member of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus who traveled with the group on the tour portrayed in the documentary.
  4. Throughout June at the JCC of San Francisco, the community is “celebrating the brave LGBTQ+ activists who paved the way for us as well as the joy and strength of the LGBTQ+ community today.” The third annual Rainbow Connection: A Family-Friendly Drag Show, slated for this weekend, is one way members and others will celebrate inclusion, kindness, courage, self-expression, confidence, and love this year.
  5. At the JCC of Central NJ in Scotch Plains, NJ, historian, author, and speaker John Kenrick gave an online lecture, “Gay Pride: More Than a Parade,” to tell the story of the human rights movement that began at a Greenwich Village bar more than five decades ago and continues to this day.
  6. The York Jewish Community Center in York, PA, will host a Pancakes for Pride fundraiser this weekend to benefit Jewish Family Services and Rainbow Rose Center, an LGBTQ+ resource center in York County, PA.
  7. In partnership with JPride Baltimore and the Baltimore Jewish Film Festival, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore offered an online panel discussion of the award-winning Israeli film, “Flawless.” Moderated by Rabbi Jessy Dressin, panelists included Abby Stein, author of “Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman,” and Jo Ivester, author of “Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey.”
  8. The Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, WI, hosted a number of online events, including a two-part program entitled “Outings: Conversations About Being Jewish and LGBTQ+.” Some of the community’s family-friendly events featured rainbow challah and rainbow playdough.
  9. On the website of the JCC East Bay, with branches in Berkeley and Oakland, CA, is a Pride resource page. Included are opportunities to learn, engage, and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. One online workshop, Queer Community in Israel, was offered in conjunction with JCC San Francisco and A Wider Bridge, a North American organization working to create LGBTQ+ equality in Israel.

Want to have your JCC’s Pride Month activity or event added to this round-up? Email the author and tell us how you celebrated the LGBTQ+ community in your JCC community this year. 

Jane E. Herman is the senior writer at JCC Association of North America. Email her at j.herman@jcca.org. 

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