Part of the observance of Shavuot, the traditional spring harvest holiday, is the celebration of the bikkurim, the first fruits of the year. In this post, Becky Silverstein honors those “first fruits” of the LGBT movement who have made so much progress possible.
The journey from Passover to Shavout is seven weeks. Counting each night, we count the steps towards revelation and still, suddenly, the time for receiving Torah is here! As I prepare for my own experience of revelation this year, here is what I expect to see at Sinai: I expect to see millions of Jews standing together. I expect to see cultural Jews standing next to Orthodox Jews standing next to our non-Jewish family members and friends. I expect to see families, of all different configurations, huddled together under one
or around a picnic blanket. I expect to see cisgender Jews and transgender Jews, Jews with matrilineal lineage and Jews by choice. I expect to see millions of people staring at the heavens, watching the thunder and lightning.
In addition to being the day of revelation at Sinai, Shavuot is also an agricultural celebration that marked the bringing of bikkurim, first fruits, to the Temple. I imagine a time of great joy filled with song and sunlight. I see households celebrating together and praying for a successful continuation of their harvest. Like my view of Sinai, these households come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations.
Despite our reenactment of revelation at Sinai, we are no longer there, nor does the Temple exist today. Where are the places we connect to G-d and to community? They are synagogues and day schools, community centers and summer camps. I see these places just as I envision Sinai and the Temple – rich in diversity of people, of family configuration, of experience. I see children of queer parents celebrating their B’nei Mitzvah. I see LGBTQ people serving as rabbis, educators, and lay leaders. I see teenagers coming out in their youth groups and feeling safe.