And those themes will be celebrated at Let’s All ‘Gelt’ Together, a crossover Hanukkah celebration between the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland and Suburban Temple-Kol Ami.
To get the scoop on the festivities, The Buckeye Flame spun dreidels with Rabbi Allison B. Vann, who has been the spiritual leader of Suburban Temple-Kol Ami since 2011.
The Buckeye Flame: Just how gay is Hanukkah?
TBF: See? I knew it. For those who don’t know the story, what are the big themes of Hanukkah that would appeal to an LGBTQ+ audience?
Rabbi Vann: "Oh my gosh, I love that question. Hanukkah is the story of fighting for freedom. In ancient times, Hanukkah was the story of religious freedom, being able to practice Judaism, which was not the majority religion. Today, I would translate Hanukkah into the ability to be one’s authentic self."
TBF: Talk about the importance of people getting together for Hanukkah.
Rabbi Vann: "First, we didn’t really get Hanukkah last year because of COVID, so just the ability to be together, to be in community, is very Jewish. That’s really important. We like to be together, we like to eat, we like to celebrate. Community is necessary. And community is part of the Jewish world. So that’s really about who we are."
"One of the things that we do during Hannukkah is we take the menorah as it is lit and put it in the window. You could joke that we started decorations before there were decorations for whatever holiday. We pirsem: publicize the miracle by putting the lights into our windows so that everyone can see. Being together to publicize that miracle is really a joy. And what better way to celebrate the miracle than to celebrate together?"
TBF: Finally, it would not surprise you that so many of our readers have not had a positive experience with their faith. How can we support people on that journey to healing?
Rabbi Vann: "I work in a congregation that is affirming in so many, many ways. And we start with a guiding value that we find in Genesis which is that we are all created in God’s image. B’tzelem Elohim."
We start with that journey of just knowing that who we are is holy. Period. So many of our journeys come with a lot of pain and a lot of hurt and we have to talk it through, accept who we are, where we are, and be willing to take that next step.
This story was originally published by the Buckeye Flame and republished here with permission.
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