On the most solemn and important day of the year for Jews, I’m spending my time outside the Supreme Court rallying for LGBTQ rights. And I could not think of a more perfectly Jewish way to spend my Erev Yom Kippur.
On Tuesday, October 8, the Supreme Court is going to hear three cases all centering around whether or not it is legal to fire someone based on their sexual and gender identities — seemingly basic rights. Unfortunately, the letter of the law under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act simply says that a person cannot be fired because of their sex — which is assigned at birth — not their chosen gender identity or their sexual orientation.
The stakes are huge: A completely straight and newly majority conservative bench filled with people like Thomas and Kavanaugh, both of whom were narrowly appointed to the bench after credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault from multiple women. These are the men who will be deciding whether or not queer and trans people can be legally discriminated against simply for being who they are.
As a queer, Jewish woman myself, it’s not only personal, it’s a shanda.
It’s precisely because it’s a shanda that I will be spending the day before the holiest day of the year on the frontlines of this fight. My activism is deeply tied to my Judaism, which tells me that it is my responsibility to take action. My faith, my identity, and my call to justice are all tied intrinsically to the outcomes of this case. So instead of taking it easy before the fast, I’ll be surrounded by my fellow activists, making sure our voices are heard.
To me, this is a Jewish fight, though it’s not about a Jewish issue. Yom Kippur is about atonement and repentance. It’s about righting the wrongs we have done to others. We’re called to look deeply within ourselves to see where we can make room for improvement. Yom Kippur is, at its core, a call to action to do better. And that call is precisely what the Supreme Court can answer now. It’s the call I will be answering as well.
So, where else would I be on erev Yom Kippur besides outside of the Supreme Court, a place that has become my de facto synagogue with my beautiful minyan of activists?
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