Isn’t it funny how the most unexpected things bring Orthodox Jews together? Last month, YCT and YU Rabbinical students went on a Christian-Jewish interfaith mission together, and last night (8/10), the senior administrations of these two schools came out with dozens of others to the Manhattan JCC to remember those who were killed, pray for the injured, and recognize the every day pain, suffering, and fear that plagues the queer Jewish world.
Rabbi Yosef Blau, the Mashgiach Ruchani of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Avi Weiss, President of YCT, and Rabbi Dov Linzer, YCT’s Dean and Rosh Yeshiva each spoke at the event. Rabbi Blau spoke in direct, clear words to the evilness of hatred and murder, and to need for all of us to act differently to our neighbors. Rabbi Weiss lead the gathered in Rabbi Nachman’s song, reminding us that though the way is narrow and dangerous – we must never be afraid. Rabbi Linzer lead the group in a unique prayer that he composed for the occasion.
In addition to the Rabbinic leadership, many leaders of the homodox community spoke about their ongoing activities, and we got an update regarding LGBT issues and organizations in Israel.
The unity, and the size of the event was inspiring, as well as the brave personal stories of the many who are struggling to be proud of who they are in all ways. However, I still left with a bad taste in my mouth. While this stuff was great, at the end of the day it was a memorial for two people who are dead, and I still don’t know that much about then. I hardly heard a word about these people. About the only thing I know is what the murderer wanted me to know – they are gay, and they are dead.
I know, I know, “You should never let a crisis go to waste.” And yes, there is much work to be done, and yes, it was very inspiring to see this unprecedented event take place last night. But, I just wish there was a way we could do that while still honoring the memories of these people who were killed. To recognize that Nir Katz and Liz Trubeshi were real people, whose identity went far deeper than the gender of those they were attracted to. I wish I could know them. I wish we could have this rally, without turning them into dead pawns.