Parashat Korach

Friday, June 26, 2020 /4 Tammuz, 5780
Parashat Korach Numbers 16:1-18:32

Dear Friends,

Tonight, Temple Beth El will celebrate Pride Shabbat for the first time in our history. While Pride has been celebrated in the LGBTQIAQ community for years, its message of equality and civil rights for all has resonated within the Jewish community forever, even before the Jewish community recognized that LGBTQIAQ rights ARE civil rights.

I can still think back to so many friends in my life who suffered the isolation of their gender or sexual identity, in a time when there was a stigma attached to it. These days, my children go to our own URJ Camp Newman, where gender and sexual identity is celebrated and respected, with appropriate pronouns and even housing being honored. They go to school with open, out, and proud members of the LGBTQIAQ community, no longer feeling that they need to conform to the old “normal” but knowing that they can be proud of who they are, and even celebrated for who they are. LGBTQIAQ families are being married and raising their children in our Jewish communities, without fear of judgement, but knowing they are loved equally and valued equally to their hetero counterparts. SO, tonight we open our tent to welcome, love, honor, and embrace the LGBTQIAQ community in Pride of all YOU are.

This week’s Torah portion tells of Korach, who launched and ill-fated rebellion against Moses, a rebellion which some have likened to fighting the establishment, represented by Moses, in our modern society. Many have even felt a sympathy for Korach, at times, feeling isolated and unheard, themselves. But, upon further examination, one realizes that Korach is fighting based upon his own hubris, not for a better life for the people, but rather out of jealousy and a want to be the leader.

Rabbi Dror Chankin-Gould teaches, “The name Korach has the same root as the Hebrew word, Kerach, meaning ice. Korach represents what is cold and hard and immobile. Korach represents what it is to emotionally freeze out those who would love us.” Korach is the embodiment of all those families and religious communities who turned their backs on their Gay or Trans children, those families and communities of so many of my friends I mentioned earlier. Korach is the arrogance that believes we should all look and be the same. Korach is NOT Temple Beth El.

At Temple Beth El, today, WE are Moses, embracing the challenges of our wanderings and seeking the promised land. WE are Aaron, blessing the Jewish people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual identity. WE are Miriam, pulling out our timbrels and dancing alongside our siblings to celebrate our shared salvation as WE cross the sea together. WE share in the Pride of all of us, uplifting everybody, especially those who for so long have been put down and denied their rights as human beings. Our tent is Loud ‘n’ Proud, standing together as an inclusive community.

Pride Shabbat Shalom,
Cantor Ilan