By Jordan Rodnizki, NFTY-STR PVP and incoming NFTY PVP
On Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, the state of North Carolina enshrined bigotry, ignorance, and hatred into their constitution. Many adults who hold the power to vote abused this opportunity by deciding to hurt others to protect their own feelings of morality. This angers me, but I do not fear.
Because on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, I wasn’t consumed by bigotry, ignorance, or hatred. I was a witness to hundreds of my closest NFTY friends publicly banding together to denounce the passage of the amendment. Some shared compelling statuses urging for full equality for all Americans; others displayed comparison pictures to the interracial marriage fight. My entire Facebook news feed was flooded with compassionate testimony, genuine words of encouragement, and love.
Love. Isn’t that what this is all about?
I joined the North American Federation of Temple Youth because I felt openly embraced for my differences. I wasn’t a statistic or a laboratory experiment or a generalized stereotype. I connected with people who valued k’vod, or mutual respect, above all else. After all, it’s highlighted within our Brit Kehilah that we sign before each NFTY event.
We often describe NFTY as a bubble or a utopia. Our environments at school aren’t nearly as warm, crazy, deep, rewarding, or meaningful as our camps, regions, or TYGs. If only the world we live in could emulate our kehilah kedosha, we’d have legalized same sex marriage universally years ago.
Nine year ago to be exact. In 2003, Max Chaiken, then NFTY-GER RCVP and current URJ Kutz Camp Songleader major co-teacher, wrote a resolution affirming NFTY’s support for gay marriage. It passed that summer, and it wasn’t even the first instance of inclusion adopted by this movement. It wasn’t even the second or third either. In 1983, NFTY boldly spoke out against discrimination of homosexuals. In 1993, NFTY issued a boycott of the Boy Scouts of America because they did not – and STILL do not – allow troupe members and adult leadership to identify as gay. And in 1991, NFTY actually chastised the CCAR for not allowing gay rabbis to fulfill covenantal obligations.
Youth have always been on the right side of history; it’s just our parents that need to listen. And it appears we’ve finally been loud enough: On Wednesday, May 9th, 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting president to publicly announce his full support for same sex marriage. Maybe, perhaps in the (near) future, the world we live in will become a little bit more like our NFTY communities.
I’ve always been proud to be Jewish, and I’ve always been proud to be gay. But today, I can confidently say that I am proud to be an American.