Acceptance and Feeling welcome in one's workplace

Cantor Sharon Grainer and me, doing a selfie at Philly Gay Pride 2016
 I've worked for Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel for over 12 years now, well, technically, I'll reach my 12th year anniversary at the end of July, and I'll be entering my 13th season at that time.  In all my years here, I have always felt so incredibly accepted and welcome, as a non-Jewish person and as an openly lesbian woman with a wife and child.

June is Gay Pride Month - Philadelphia celebrated their pride march a few weeks ago, and I marched in the parade as a representative of BZBI.  It was my first official participation in the parade, save for the time 20 years ago when I rode my big red beach cruiser, decorated with tassels, streamers and a rainbow flag, and I inserted myself at the head of the parade and rode through the route as an unofficial "dyke on bike"! I sure do know how to have a good time!

In the years I've worked at BZBI, we've been privileged to participate or witness a number of special weddings.  One year, Phyllis and I got to hold up a Chuppah for a wedding couple being married in our chapel by Rabbi Ira Stone.  Now there's something I can put on my resume!

This past May 20th, BZBI held a special Friday night Shabbat service, called Pride Shabbat.  The Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus sang a pre-shabbat concert service, and the entire service was open to our LGTBQ community.  It was a beautiful evening, made so because it was inclusive of everyone in the community.  At work that following Monday, we received an email from members who now live in Mexico, who were so touched to learn that BZBI held a Pride Shabbat.  From their beautiful note to us, I realized that I wanted to know more about these men, Richard Sinovoi and Elliot Gould, two members of BZBI for over 30 years.  I sent them an email requesting an interview of sorts, with a story about myself and my limited knowledge of them.

What follows is their story and mine, as it appears on the BZBI Shofar Blog.  I'v excerpted some of the post here, and the link to the rest of their story, as it appears on BZBI's website can be reached here:

BZBI - a welcoming place, filled acceptance and pride for our LGTBQ community.

I’ve had the pleasure of working at BZBI for almost 12 years.  For me, as a non-Jewish person and an open lesbian, BZBI is a very welcoming place.  I’ve had the opportunity to have my son attend the preschool here;  watch many gay and lesbian couples join us and get married here (a few, not enough but we’ve had the weddings!); and, especially to witness two very special members, Elliot Gould and Richard Sinovoi, become a legal couple in the State of PA and the entire USA. 

When I had my wedding last year to my partner (now wife!), our marriage was met with open arms and many congratulations.  Liz and I have been married 1 year and we are together 17 years.  Everyone here has been entirely supportive of me and who I am.
During my years here, I have crossed paths with Elliot and Richard.  While we all may not “know” each-other, I have heard a lot about them; I’ve greeted them at High Holidays in the past; and we’ve spoken at length on the phone.  As my gay brethren and forebears in the fight for equality, they serve as an inspiration to me.

Our office was delighted to receive an email from Richard and Elliot, on the occasion of BZBI’s first, Pride Shabbat, on May 20th.    In their email, they told us:

“I truly had tears in my eyes when I read the release about Philly Pride and BZBI's participation.   I should not have been surprised, however, as BZBI is an exceptional place.”
“We are so very proud to have been part of the BZBI family for so many years, and wish we could be in Philadelphia to join in the Seder, and other celebrations.

Our thoughts and best wishes to you all.”  Richard Sinovoi/Elliott Gould.

To read the rest of their story and my guest-posting on the BZBI Shofar Blog, please visit teh link here:


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