“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I Adonai am your God.” (Leviticus 19:33–34)
These words from the Torah remind us that we have all been “strangers” in one way or another, and demand that we draw on that experience to develop radical empathy for people who feel marginalized.
BJ has taken these words to heart: Since our renaissance in the 1980s, we have wholeheartedly welcomed LGBTQ people to be part of our kehillah. We committed early on to establishing a unique haven particularly for all kinds of Jewish searchers, or for those who have felt ill at ease or even unwelcome elsewhere.
While we celebrate that there are now fewer instances of this deplorable behavior toward gay men, lesbians, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks who seek a spiritual home, we know it still happens, sadly, and that some people have had trouble finding a Jewish community where they feel accepted for their whole selves.