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Our Inclusive Community

Har Shalom Welcomes Interfaith Households

Har Shalom has a distinguished history as an egalitarian and inclusive Synagogue.  If you are the non-Jewish spouse or partner in a Har Shalom household, we encourage you to be an active part of the Har Shalom family. Here are some of the opportunities we offer:

  • Adult learning classes to help you gain a comfortable understanding of our services and Jewish traditions.
  • Full involvement in the volunteer projects, educational activities, and all non-ritual committees.
  • Full access to and assistance of our clergy
  • Participation in the religious school activities and life-cycle events of your family members.
  • Our staff and officers will be happy to discuss with you the many opportunities available that will help you to become a vital participant in our Synagogue’s community.

For more information or further questions, please contact the Rabbi or Hazzan in the Clergy Office.

Resources for Interfaith Households
 

  • If I would like to discuss what activities I can participate in at Har Shalom, as a non-Jewish partner or spouse, whom should I contact?
    • Our clergy are pleased to discuss any questions that you have, please Ask the Rabbi.
  • Can you recommend any books or websites, or local or national organizations that can provide helpful information to interfaith households?
    • Our clergy are pleased to direct you to additional resources related to your specific interests. The following is an initial list of resources which provides a good starting point.
    • As you will understand, although we identify these organizations as a resource for learning, information and opinions found on external web sites may not represent the views of Congregation Har Shalom or its members.
  • Interfaith Community – www.interfaithfamily.com
  • Jewish Social Service Agency – www.jssa.org
  • The Jewish Outreach Institute – www.joi.org
  • The Mothers Circle (JCC) for non-Jewish moms – www.themotherscircle.org
  • What are the halakhic limitations that apply to a non-Jewish spouse or partner?
    • When it comes to the participation of non-Jewish spouses or partners in Synagogue life there are three areas of limitations:
      • Participation in services. There are many opportunities for non-Jewish spouses or partners to participate in important family milestones such as baby namings and b’nai mitzvah, and they can have a reading role during Shabbat services. At the same time, there are also some halakhic constraints. In accordance with the rules of the Conservative Movement, with which Har Shalom is affiliated, a non-Jewish spouse or partner may not have Torah-related honors, nor recite blessings.
      • In what ways can a non-Jewish spouse or partner participate in the life-cycle events of my family?
        • Honors are often awarded to people celebrating a life-cycle event. These events involve a core family as well as the community at large. We wish to have every member of the core family share in the joy. In these situations, such as a birth or a b’nai mitzvah, the non-Jewish family member often accompanies the Jewish family member to the Torah (following the blessings), as someone who enables this moment of joy to take place. While the Jewish family member recites the covenantal blessings, the non-Jewish family member is very much part of the occasion.  
        • Har Shalom also creates opportunities in the service that are not strictly Jewish ritual. These may include readings, the presentation of a tallit to a child, or saying some words to the child that do not have covenantal significance.

LGBTQ+ Resources

Modernity has provided an understanding of sexuality that was never seriously considered or imagined by our Sages.  The idea that a same-sex couple would live monogamously, in a life-long, loving, mutually supportive relationship was practically unheard of in the pre-modern world.  The Torah itself never addressed sexual identity, only sexual practice.  It is entirely silent about lesbianism as it is about other forms of same-sex intimacy, with the sole exception being the act of one male penetrating another. (Leviticus 18:22) The Rabbis widely extended these prohibitions to include other all forms of same-sex intimacy, including between women, but those prohibitions are “d’rabbanan,” meaning they derive from rabbinic, not biblical authority. In 2006, the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS) approved by a vote of 13-12-0 an exhaustive, 55-page responsum jointly written by Rabbis Elliot Dorff, Daniel Nevins, and Avram Reisner (https://rabbinevins.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/dorff_nevins_reisner_dignity.pdf ) ruling that “the rabbinic prohibitions that have been associated with other gay and lesbian intimate acts are superseded based upon the Talmudic principle of kvod habriot, our obligation to preserve the human dignity of all people.”  The Har Shalom clergy are convinced that the conclusions of our beloved colleagues and teachers are not only an authentic interpretation of Jewish Law, but a position we fully embrace.

Genesis 2:18 teaches that “it is not good for [a man] to be alone.” While not every person goes through life with a spouse or a partner, there is a distinct human yearning for partnership and reciprocal love. At Har Shalom, we believe that Judaism should promote human companionship defined by love, sacred commitment, physical and mental health, and mutual respect.  Our synagogue, clergy, and staff welcome LGBTQ+ Jews in every way, including the celebration of the loving commitment of two Jews beneath a chuppah, regardless of their sexuality or gender.  The Har Shalom clergy follow the format and rituals developed by the Rabbinical Assembly and CJLS for the officiation of these ceremonies.  

Mi'Beit

Har Shalom is proud to offer a gender-neutral alternative for any individual receiving an aliyah to the Torah. You may use a gender neutral term: 'mi'beit' (from the house of, or from the family of) instead of the common term ‘ben’ (son of) or ‘bat’ (daughter of). Har Shalom is committed to inclusion in our community and we welcome further suggestions on how to do it. We welcome your questions and input as we continue discussing additional inclusion initiatives.

Accessibility

Let us bless the Source of life in its infinite variety,
that creates all of us whole, none of us perfect.

Judith Glass

Congregation Har Shalom celebrates that “infinite variety” as we welcome all Jews, whatever their abilities and challenges. 

Our clergy, leadership, staff and members are all committed to creating a warm and inclusive atmosphere.

We value each person as someone fashioned in the image of God and believe that everyone, regardless of limitations, has something to contribute. We know that like Moses, who was “slow of speech”; Isaac and Leah, who had weak eyes; and Jacob, who had an injured leg, disability does not define who we are.

To help us infuse this spirit into every synagogue activity—spiritual, educational, or social, we formed our Accessibility or Kulanu (All of Us) Committee. It has the following mission:

To ensure that Har Shalom welcome and offer support to all congregants with disabilities, making them feel part of synagogue life and striving to eliminate all barriers (structural, communication, and attitudinal) to full participation.

Here are a few of the ways our congregation has celebrated diversity:

  • The Har Shalom Education department works closely with families whose children have special learning needs to develop a program that fits their learning style.
  • A signed bat mitzvah for a congregant who is Deaf
  • Weekly inclusion of a young man with physical and intellectual disabilities in our Torah procession
  • Monthly attendance of friends from the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes at our services
  • We promise that you will find no physical obstacle to entering our beautiful sanctuary or fully participating in services. Our congregation is proud of the awards we have received from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for our building’s accessibility.

Sat, July 31 2021 22 Av 5781