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Leading the Way for Equality - Literally!

Leading the Way for Equality - Literally!

The occasion was the Santa Cruz Pride Parade in Santa Cruz, CA, in support of the LGBTQI community, and dozens of members of Temple Beth El in Aptos, CA, were there to march. I was honored to serve as the parade’s grand marshal alongside my colleague Stuart Rosenstein, and to be joined by a cadre of marchers that included our temple’s leadership and rabbis, all coming together to celebrate Pride Month with the city and county of Santa Cruz. I cannot begin to share the feelings of joy and pride that overwhelmed me as I waved from a 1954 Mercury at the thousands of people lining each side of the street, with Temple Beth El members marching right behind.

In 25 years, this was the first time the Santa Cruz Pride committee selected a grand marshal for her work based in a faith community. I serve as chair of Out in Our Faith, an award-winning program of Temple Beth El in Aptos, CA, where I am a past president. Stuart is an ally to Twice Blessed, an LGBT committee at Temple Beth El. Our being asked to serve as grand marshals of the parade was truly a community recognition of the excellent works by the Santa Cruz Jewish community, expressed through Temple Beth El and the JCC in Aptos, CA.

Temple Beth El has been at the forefront of fighting for full LGBTQI inclusion, including marriage equality, and to opposing Prop 8. We’re committed to ensuring that families both inside the temple and out know that they and their children and friends are created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s image, and that they’re worthy of love and families of their own. For this sense of familial foundation, our congregation was recognized with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Irving J. Fain Social Action Award in 2005; to now have our hometown secular community add to this recognition is a great honor.

There are many members of Twice Blessed and leaders of Temple Beth El who not only allow for our congregation’s work but also participate fully, challenging us to bend the envelope every day. We’re led and supported by our rabbinic team, executive director, temple president, and our president-elect, who will soon become our first openly gay president. Temple Beth El is vocal and proud of our commitment to inclusion and equality – and we’re looking forward to favorable Supreme Court decisions on Prop 8 and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act!

As California waits for the Supreme Court to hand down its decision on these two vital cases, those of us at Temple Beth El, along with our county clerk, are preparing for mass weddings to take place at county facilities. Out In Our Faith clergy are ready to perform weddings using a county secular script, conducted by Christian, Buddhist, Unitarian, and Jewish faith leaders at a moment’s notice this Pride month. It will be an amazing, loving celebration."

In this area of our work, I never have to guess at our congregation’s mission. It know that it is to save lives and preserve families in every home and to rid our community of LGBT bias and hatred. Love and respect are the answer, and I’m proud that Temple Beth El of Aptos, CA leads the way.

Kathy Ruiz Goldenkranz is a past president of Temple Beth El in Aptos, CA, and was the 2013 Santa Cruz Pride Grand Marshal.

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