New York's Gay Pride Weekend Bigger — and Jewier — Than Ever

Bill De Blasio Speaks at Shabbat To Kick Off Festivities

getty images

By Brian Schaefer

Published June 27, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(Haaretz) — The most outrageous snapshots from any given Pride parade tend to be the most popular – six-foot drag queens (seven, if you count heels and hair,) chiseled go-go dancers in mini-Speedos, loads of glitter. It is an event that has come to be defined by party boys.

But ahead of New York Pride this weekend, many Jewish groups in the area are using the event to bring attention to political and social issues. They are doing so with the help of guests such as Bill De Blasio, the mayor of New York, and activists from Africa, which has been a region of particular concern in recent years as countries like Uganda and Nigeria pass sweeping anti-LGBT legislation.

De Blasio will deliver the keynote address on Friday night at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the world’s largest LGBT synagogue and a pioneering Jewish presence in the New York Pride Parade. De Blasio, who will be introduced by the actress and congregation member Cynthia Nixon, joins a long line of cultural and political leaders who have addressed the Jewish LGBT community on the eve of Pride. Past speakers include the playwright Tony Kushner and nearly every mayor, except Rudy Giuliani.

“It’s kinda the place to be,” CBST head rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum told Haaretz. “Every politician wants to be there.”

Rabbi Kleinbaum, who invites the speakers, anticipated 600 attendees for the event, which will take place at Cooper Union College. She also noted that on every Friday night in June, there are Pride Shabbat services to be found somewhere in the city.

A spotlight on international injustice

Meanwhile, across the river in Livingston, New Jersey, Temple B’nai Avraham will begin Pride celebrations with a talk about the struggle for LGBT rights in Africa by a Kenyan LGBT activist who goes by the pseudonym “Ken” to protect his identity back home.

Ken’s stop in New Jersey comes complements of the American Jewish World Service, a human rights organization that has long championed LGBT rights – among other pressing issues – in the developing world. The event follows Ken’s meetings on Capital Hill with members of Congress, Shabbat services at a synagogue in Washington, D.C., and his appearance at events in Los Angeles and San Francisco.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.