Author Archives: Shoshanah Tornberg

Shoshanah Tornberg

About Shoshanah Tornberg

Rabbi Shoshanah King-Tornberg serves Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, NY. She is a Jewish educator by profession and a dancer and writer by avocation.

Coming Out

The Passover seder often serves as a model for new rituals. The author calls the following a Seder Lichvod Yetzi’at Meitzarim, which translates to a Seder in Honor of Going Out of Narrow Places. As liberal Judaism has come increasingly to accept gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals, ceremonies like this one have been devised to religiously commemorate a life passage not addressed by traditional rites: publicly “coming out of the closet.” Traditional Judaism, which condemns homosexual behavior, would obviously not condone a ceremony like this one. It is reprinted with permission from the author.Jewish Gay Pride and Coming Out Ceremony

The community sings together:

Nigun [melody] familiar to the community 


“As the Israelites sang at the sea, so should the Jewish community sing when any one of us chooses to liberate him or herself from old enslavements.” — Rebecca Alpert.


V’ha’aretz hayta tohu vavohu, v’choshech al p’nei t’hom… (Breishit 1:2).

And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep… (Genesis 1:2).


Let us bring order into a disordered world.lifecycle quiz

Seder means “order.” Traditionally, we use the term to refer to the Passover meal that commemorates when the children of Israel were freed from bondage in Mitzrayim [Egypt]–“the narrow place.” Seder reminds us that there are many rituals to be followed, many prayers and blessings to be recited, stories to be told, and songs to be sung, before the Passover is complete. During Pesach, we follow the “order” of the service in the Haggadah, which leads us through slavery, to freedom, and urges us to dream beyond–to the final redemption and perfection of the world.

Tonight, we also conduct a seder, commemorating the “coming out” of another narrow place–the closet of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender secrecy and shame that is often so necessary in a world that lacks understanding and courage. Our seder is a defiant act; order and freedom in the face of disorder and injustice.


Tonight we gather for a coming-out seder. Some of us are here tonight, because, recently, we have come to recognize something new about who we are and about whom we love. Like our people’s exodus from the shackles of Mitzrayim–rendering us a free people–we have made an exodus from the shame and fear of the “closet.” We have nothing to hide as we move toward a land of greater promise. This world is still so far from full acceptance and support of gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgender people, but we look to the warm faces around this seder table as a vision of a future world in which everyone can be safe and free.