By Max Joseph Bleich
Workum Intern, Rockdale Temple
A famous line in Isaiah reads “My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7). This very same line once appeared on the beloved Rockdale Avenue site of the Holy Congregation of the Children of Israel from 1906 to 1969.
It was likely problematic in those times to consider any house of worship to be a safe space for people of different gender identities and sexual orientations.
But as Rockdale celebrates 192 years of forward thinking, maybe it isn’t so crazy to think that being LGBTQ+ during the time our fourth congregational home was erected was acceptable at Rockdale.
Tikkun Olam- “repairing the world”- provides a concise definition of the value system by which Judaism thrives. In a world full of hatred, racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia, it is comforting to know that a religious space doubles as a safe space for everyone, regardless of who they are, where they come from, and who they love.
The mission of Rockdale Temple is “to promote a more just, righteous, and compassionate world; to apply the teachings of Judaism to the values and conduct of the individual, the family, and the society in which we live; and to project a positive presence in the community and the world for the public.”
It’s no wonder Rockdale has been involved with Cincinnati Pride for the past seven years. But this year was different. Cincinnati Pride 2016, following the horrific massacre at Orlando’s Pulse gay night club, felt less joyous than previous pride celebrations and more so a march of support.
On Saturday June 25, 2016, the Jewish Community of Greater Cincinnati marched together, in love and solidarity with our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, taking a stand against the bigotry that spawned the largest mass shooting in US history.
We marched, not because we are different, but because we are all the same.
We are all human.
We all crave love, security, health and happiness, and 49 of our brothers and sisters wanted only to love and be loved, feel safe and be happy. They were human. They were just like you and me. It could have been us. It could have been you. It could have been me.
Hatred knows no boundaries, knows no color and knows no sex. Hatred only knows hatred.
We all marched, proudly holding up a congregant-crafted banner displaying the Rockdale Temple logo in a rainbow colored gradient.
We all marched, dripping in sweat from the relentlessly hot sun, donning our newly printed Pride shirts, each sharing the message “all together now” with a playful splash of the Rockdale hexagon Star of David surrounding it.
We all marched, proudly waving an American flag colored red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, as we passed a group of protesters. Their hatred could not stop us, and God would not let their voices trample over our cheers and laughter.
We all marched.
And we marched forward, just as Rockdale Temple always has and always will.