Diversity and Inclusion

Congregation Bet Haverim‘s Statement in Response to the Department of Justice Seeking to Legitimize Employment Discrimination Against Transgender People

Handy Entertainment was founded on the principles of diversity and inclusion. Below, an open letter from  Rabbi Joshua Lesser.

Congregation Bet Haverim stands in solidarity with the Transgender community recognizing that all of us together are created in the Divine Image and are deserving of dignity, respect, and safety. We join the Reconstructionist Movement and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association in lifting “our collective voices in support of transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming people – our loved ones, our community leaders, and people across the globe. We unequivocally oppose any attempt by the Trump Administration to dismantle federal protections for trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people under Title IX.” We honor how integral transgender people are in our communities and appreciate their leadership on critical issues, particularly in gender justice and liberation.

This week we have experienced not one but two threats that seek to persecute transgender people. Following the White House’s threat to LGBTQ rights through seeking to reduce the definition of gender “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth”, the Department of Justice filed a brief to the Supreme Court seeking to allow discrimination against transgender people in employment. We decry these actions of the current administration for the reprehensible bigotry that they seek to legislate. 

These attacks are existential as they seek to erase transgender people. As Jews, we understand from our own history how legislating erasure undermines people’s fundamental safety and ability to seek inclusion and protection under the law. This is a real threat to transgender civil rights and inclusion in federally funded programs and also the ability to be protected in the workplace. In a country where discrimination of transgender people is rampant, rolling back the legislated progress we have made is a real and true danger. Collectively, we must vehemently reject this onslaught and seek to provide support and advocate for transgender rights nationally, in our states, and in our cities.

Transgender people are already living boldly courageous lives in the face of day to day threats; this national conversation exposes how vulnerable transgender people are. In addition to challenging this administration, we must do better in our local faith communities, institutions, organizations and places of employment. We cannot stand up and be loyal allies without examining our own personal and communal practices. 

Congregation Bet Haverim is a work in progress, and so we reaffirm our commitments to enact gender diverse affirmative practices in our congregation through continuing education and advocacy, and by listening to our transgender members and guests. It is upon us to create a better and safer future for our transgender children. We urge the Jewish community and all faith communities to commit to being better sanctuaries of refuge and support. We join our fellow Reconstructionist communities by affirming that “our ethical commitment to upholding gender-expansiveness is central to the flourishing of the Reconstructionist movement, now and going forward. In solidarity with transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming community members, we proudly proclaim: your existence is a blessing.” We are stronger together.

A picture of a few members of Congregation Bet Haverim marching in Atlanta Pride 2018.
“The School of Medicine at Emory University used this company for our staff appreciation carnival and everyone had great things to say.