The following letter is what I have written as an alternative to what actually played out. Since drafting this proposed letter I have been advised that as of Friday July 7 the date of the pride parade has been rescheduled. I hope the Jewish community can work more collaboratively and cooperatively with the GLBT community in future, to avoid the tensions and disharmony as demonstrated. Respect is always earned, not demanded.
Dear North Carolina Pride,
We write to you in the spirit of fostering a stronger and more harmonious relationship between the GLBT and Jewish communities.
It has come to our attention that this year NC Pride falls on Saturday September 30, the same day as Yom Kippur. To us, Yom Kippur is a solemn day of reflection and prayer. The timing of these two significant occasions means that some Jews will be faced with the conflict of having to choose between attending a Yom Kippur service or participating in your pride parade.
Our communities have a shared experience of oppression and marginalisation, so we understand how important it is for you to stand tall and proud, fly your flags high and declare to the world your wish for dignity and equality.
Whilst we are saddened that some of our community will be unable to attend your parade due to their religious observance, we have decided as whole community to observe NC Pride with you on Yom Kippur.
Let me explain.
Yom Kippur is about atonement and repentance, where Jews ask for forgiveness for our sins and transgressions. This year we are going to ask our Jewish community to look at how we treat GLBT people. We know we have not made our best efforts to provide the safest spaces, the most inclusive environments and the most dignified opportunities. We know we can improve and be better people. This is the very introspection that Yom Kippur demands of us.
We are going to ask the Jewish community to reflect on how we sometimes put pressure on those in the closet, who feel they must lie to their families, peers and themselves about their sexuality or gender identity in order to meet our expectations of them.
Similarly we are going to ask the Jewish community how we can be better people and stand up for the rights and dignity of GLBT people when wider society and the government wishes to deny them equal rights and opportunity under the law.
We know your pain and your suffering, and on Yom Kippur, our day of sacrifice, the least we can do is feel some of it with you and walk together in your shoes.
We are thankful of your efforts over each of the past 17 years, and wish you a long and strong future. We also commit to sharing this experience every time NC Pride coincides with Yom Kippur, and will do our best to ensure every Jew who wishes to participate in your pride parade will be able to do so, either in person, or if they are attending a Yom Kippur service, then in their hearts.
Raleigh-Cary Jewish Community Center