Mi sheberakh horeinu Abraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham., Yitzhak v’Ya’akov, The first matriarch, wife of Abraham, and mother of Isaac, whom she birthed at the age of 90. Sarah, in Rabbinic tradition, is considered holy, beautiful, and hospitable. Many prayers, particularly the Amidah (the central silent prayer), refer to God as Magen Avraham – protector of Abraham. Many Jews now add: pokehd or ezrat Sarah – guardian or helper of Sarah., Rivkah, Lavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem. v’The third of the Jewish matriarchs, Lead is the eldest of Lavan's daughters and one of the wives of Jacob. She is the daughter whom Lavan tricks Jacob into marrying instead of his younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob has requested to marry. Leah is mother to six of the the twelve tribes and to one daughter, Dinah.,Yosef, David v’Yonatan, Rut v’Na’omi –
May the one who blessed our ancestors Abraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham., Abraham and Sarah's much-longed-for son and the second Jewish patriarch. Isaac is nearly sacrificed by his father at God's command (Genesis 22). He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Esau and Jacob. His Hebrew name is Yitzchak., and Lit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov., Sarah, The second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka., Rachel and Leah, Jacob's eldest son by his beloved wife, Rachel. Joseph, the dreamer, was his father's favorite and nearly murdered by his brothers. Sold into slavery, he became viceroy of Egypt where he ultimately saves the Egyptians and also his own family from starvation. His Hebrew name is Yosef/, David and Jonathan, An important female biblical character with her own book. The Book of Ruth, read on Shavuot, tells the story of Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and their return to Israel. Ruth’s story is often read as the first story of conversion. Ruth is the grandmother of King David. and Naomi, bring blessing and healing to all of us in our community of communities who feel or have felt the sting of homophobia and transphobia.
We have been victims of verbal assault, street harassment, and physical violence.
We have been misgendered – out of malice, ignorance, and accident.
We have been forced to perform and conform to genders that do not match our identity.
We have been denied employment, promotion, housing, and educational opportunities.
We have been made to feel other and unsafe in public and communal settings.
We have been made to feel other and unsafe in Jewish spaces.
We have a rate of suicide among our queer youth almost five times higher than among their heterosexual peers.
We have had our intimate actions criminalized and our unions made illegal.
We have been denied service at restaurants, wedding venues, and bakeries.
We have become estranged from family members and been made to feel unloved.
We have not had access to restrooms and locker rooms that match our gender – or been blocked from using them.
We have been forced to choose to remain closeted or to cover our identities out of fear and discomfort.
We have been erased or silenced in our history and sacred texts.
In times of darkness, help us to recall the words of your prophet: “I am Adonai, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).
Grant us the courage to hold our heads up high, to live into our truest selves, and to love openly, even as we move through our own processes of healing. Help us to overcome the specters of self-doubt and self-loathing that arise from the trauma of hate.
Holy One in whose image all humankind is formed, help to soften the hearts and open the eyes of those who lose sight of the divinity in their neighbor so that we may break the cycles and the speech patterns of homophobia and transphobia that are so deeply engrained in our society.
And let us say, Amen.