On June 23, Or Chadash's Shabbat was ushered in with a Pride reception and the Am Keshet Community Award ceremony at Temple Sholom.
Or Chadash is an LGBT community group that calls Temple Sholom home and provides a wide range of spiritual and social programming/activities. Since its establishment 41 years ago, all members of the LGBT community and its allies have been welcome to participate.
With Or Chadash coming into Temple Sholom, the facility's LGBTQ affiliate group, previously named Am Keshet, expanded.
Or Chadash co-chair Edwards Buice founded the Am Keshet Community award six years ago, and described the reception and awards ceremony as a chance to thank certain individuals and organizations for their support.
"I founded the award six years ago because I realized that we're so busy celebrating, sometimes we forget to thank those that have made the effort to make this happen, that we have a more open society, a more open spiritual organization, that allows us as the LGBTQ community to be who we are, to bring our spouses, our partners, our families and be openly gay or transsexual, or questioning or bisexual without judgement or being exploited," said Buice.
This year's award recipients included Aviva Katzman, Norman Sandfield, Dignity/Chicago, Judi Gorman and Pride Parade organizer Richard Pfeiffer.
"I'm a very lucky man," said Sandfield. "I've done what I want to do, I contributed, I've been thanked for it, this is another cherry on the cake," said Sandfield, past president of Or Chadash with 24 years on the Board and a member of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.
"I just felt like the portion from the Torah from this week had a rebellion among the Israelites because they just weren't happy with the way things were going and life was difficult and imperfect and that ultimately, I think the message is life is not perfect and especially in times like these we have to remember that we just need to keep moving forward and keep showing up," said Katzman, the first female member of the Jewish clergy to serve within the city of Chicago and cantor of Temple Sholom of Chicago for 28 years ( now Cantor Emerita ), of what she shared in her brief acceptance speech.
Following the reception and awards ceremony was the Friday night service. Buice said the Pride service was centered around Or Chadash Pride weekend and celebrating the LGBTQ community, but also remembering those who passed away, specifically, the individuals killed in Orlando last year.
"I was very pleased and very excited that so many individuals came out to celebrate and share the happiness of Pride weekend and to thank the individuals, recognizing them and honoring them for their support throughout the years of the LGBT community and it was a great way of us coming together as one community and celebrating, socializing and supporting each other," said Buice of the evening's events, which welcomed about 65 people. "I felt like it was a community building opportunity for the LGBT community, as well as our allies."
For more information on Or Chadash and Temple Sholom, visit SholomChicago.org .