“Tolerance is giving every other human being every right you claim for yourself.” –Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)
In this world, there is a tendency for many to see things only one way – things are either black or white. There is only one way to perceive things, there is only one way to do things, there is only one right way. Unfortunately, that outlook presents difficulties, as life isn’t black and white. There is a rainbow of factors that make up the human race – all the varying colors combining in a very special way to make life so intensely vibrant – billions of people, all ages, thousands of languages, religions, races, backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and more.
The key to a harmonious community – both local and global- is acceptance, tolerance, and education. This is something that we stand by at JFCS, as part of the Jewish Federation family of agencies. We see this as our Holocaust Survivors meet with and share their poignant life stories and lessons with younger generations, not only to combat future genocide, but also to help provide a consciousness of human rights for all. In the community, at schools and synagogues, we focus on instilling the need for inclusion – not exclusion- of those with special needs to encourage and embrace their participation in our community in every way they desire. We also witness JFCS cultivating an understanding and compassion to others, to help support those who are struggling through economic hardships, loss of loved ones, mental illness, and addiction.
There is no room for judgment and labels in this harmonious community we strive to make ours. There is only- and should only ever be – acceptance, love, and loyalty, regardless of how other lives may differ from our own.
We are again reminded of this vision of an inclusive world, as LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Pride Month is upon us in this month of June. It again brings to light how important it is for all of us to appreciate and celebrate the differences of all the people around us.
This month our homeland, Israel, is showing its support as a Tel Aviv municipality morphed into a giant rainbow flag as a public reminder that it is Gay Pride Month.
The Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival will also take place during the month, along with a host of cultural events, lectures, exhibitions, festivals and other special attractions. From city to shore, here at home, the celebrations continue throughout the month. In the early part of June in Philadelphia, the 24th annual Pride Day LGBT Parade and Festival welcomed thousands, and featured live music, DJs, food, and a festive parade. The Cape May Stage showed its support for LGBT Pride month through a special Celebrating Pride play reading that celebrates the diversity of the American people and embraces sexuality in all its conceptions on June 23, in association with the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). We will continue to see more as the month winds to a close.
In Genesis God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. This value is paramount to humanity. It implores us to understand that from the very start, each of us has been created in the direct image of God – that each of us deserves the same dignity and respect that we would bestow upon God, herself.
While there is still a long way to go for universal acceptance of all beings, we can all start at home to do our part. We can welcome our neighbors with light and love and understanding – so there is less hate, criticism, conflict, and animosity in this community and in our world in general.
We hope that you will join us, not only in this month – but every month – in celebrating the diversity that exists. Each person has something to offer, something to teach, something to help us broaden our experience on this planet – we should take every opportunity as an invitation to engage in the lives of others.