Speech I Delivered At Sinai Temple For High Holy Days

September 18, 2013

Not too long ago, Rabbi David Wolpe, the head rabbi of Sinai Temple, came out stating that he would be willing to perform same-sex marriages at their conservative temple on Wilshire Boulevard.  There was a New York Times article published in July that was titled ““>Craig Taubman, a well-known Jewish musician and community organizer, who often helps Rabbi Wolpe lead Friday Night Live services at Sinai Temple, asked me if I would be willing to speak and share my experience as being a gay woman in the Jewish community.  I saw it as Rabbi Wolpe and Craig feeling that it would be good for someone from the LGBT community to bring their voice and a window into their humanity.  Although I knew it was a complete honor to be asked to speak on such a sensitive topic, I originally turned it down and said that I would find someone else to do it because I feared the backlash, and I’m also not 100% comfortable with being open about my sexuality.  Unfortunately (but fortunately) I couldn’t find anyone else to do it, and so I decided to step up to the challenge.  The services were led by Craig Taubman and Stockholm's Former Chief Rabbi, David Lazar.

I received wonderful feedback and feel very empowered by the experience.  

My speech

I stand before you as a woman about to begin graduate school to get a masters in social work.

I stand before you as a humanitarian who loves to help build bridges between different communities, and often blogs about it for the Jewish Journal.

I stand before you as the daughter and sister of an incredibly strong and loyal family.

I stand before you as a Jew, who grew up in a reform synagogue, and in the very sanctuary that my beloved grandfather was the architect for.  I had a bat mitzvah and the Torah portion Vayeshev, which is about Joseph being dehumanized by his family and sold into slavery.

I also stand before you as a gay woman.  But being gay is only one part of the many facets that make me Lia.

When I was 5 years old I came out to my mom.  I had told her that I had feelings for my pre-school teacher like a husband does for a wife.  My mom’s heart sank, not because she’s against being gay, but because she knew it would be a painful road.

My life has included a lot isolating, self-loathing, destructive behavior and pain.  But over time it has also included learning to embrace myself, having a sense of dignity and pride, and developing community. 

A great organization that has helped me is “>Bend the Arc: A Jewish partnership for Justice.  Although we immediately connected, and all the 15 fellows are absolute humanitarians, it still took me three months to gain the courage to come out to them.  It wasn’t because of anything that they did, but rather because of a fear that I’m just so used to.  Their response was beyond supportive.  I treasured this space, where I was loved, seen and heard.  I felt whole.

Another great experience was when speaking about being LGBT and Jewish at an event on relationships for

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