Sixty-five members from Baltimore’s Jewish community gathered at Bolton Street Synagogue for JPride Baltimore’s annual LGBTQ Passover seder on April 11. According to Bolton Street’s spiritual leader Rabbi Andy Gordon, this year’s seder had the highest attendance yet.
“It was great. We had people of all ages and a bunch of families with kids,” Gordon said. “It was an incredible feeling to all be together.”
Although this is only the second time Bolton Street has partnered with JPride (formerly JQ Baltimore) to host the seder, this is the sixth time JPride has held the event.
“There were enough kids to have a competition to find the Afikoman,” said Mindy Dickler who founded JQ Baltimore in 2012 after her son came out.
During the seder attendees read from a Haggadah that Gordon said focused on the major steps of a traditional Passover seder but with LGBTQ themes, and included “Queer 10 Plagues,” such as bullying, homophobia and marriage and family structure discrimination.
“I think the themes of Passover link so beautifully,” Gordon said. “Focusing on liberation from oppression, focusing on the oppressive bonds of intolerance and fear, but also the positives, like redemption and the continuing struggle for freedom and dignity for all people.”
At one point during the seder, Gordon asked attendees to identify what they felt an olive on the seder plate symbolized. Answers included that it might represent and olive branch or peace between the LGBTQ community and the rest of the Jewish community, or that olives, which grow in the Mediterranean could be a symbol for peace in the Middle East.
“But I think the most profound statement came from a 13 year-old, Dickler said. “She said, ‘Most people don’t realize that an olive is actually a fruit, just like most people don’t realize you can be LGBTQ and Jewish.’”
True to Passover tradition, four questions were posted on four separate posters around the room, where attendees were encouraged to share their answers. One poster asked “What is your hope for the future?”
“My hope for the future,” Dickler said, “is that the leadership of Baltimore’s Jewish community hears the need for much more inclusivity around LGBTQ issues.”