Gay Jews celebrate High Holy days

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Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Jews on both sides of the Atlantic are gearing up to celebrate the upcoming Jewish new year in LGBT Synagogue services.

In London, the LGBT Jewish community are invited to celebrate the festivals of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at the Beit Klal Yisrael Synagogue, Notting Hill Gate, W10, which is liberal affiliated and a member of the World Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jews organisations.

The synagogue, established in 1990, declares on its website: “We welcome all new members and participants, especially those who are distanced or estranged from many facets of contemporary Jewish community life.”

The eruv Rosh Hashanah service will begin on Friday 22nd September at 7pm.

The Rosh Hashanah service will take place on Saturday 23rd September at 10.30 am.

Kol Nidre will take place at the synagogue on Sunday 1st October at 7pm.

The Yom Kippur service will be on Monday 2nd October at 10.30am.

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Meanwhile, in New York, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST) announced today that it will return to the Javits Center this year for its High Holy services.

CBST, the synagogue for the New York metropolitan area’s 200,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jews, will host Yom Kippur services on October 1st and 2nd.

The synagogue expects thousands to attend the services, held at the most important day of the Jewish year.

CBST’s Open Door Fund allows for anyone to attend the Javits services, regardless of religious affiliation or sexual orientation (although CBST does ask nonmembers to register for the services).

“Our Open Door Fund was created in response to the historic exclusion of gays and lesbians from participating openly in most Jewish communities. We wanted to make sure everyone was included in, and welcomed at, our services,” said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Head Rabbi of CBST. “The Fund allows us to dispense with the standard admission fees commonly required to attend High Holy services. As a result, thousands are able to celebrate the High Holy Days with CBST.”

“We are thrilled to return to the Javits Center for these important holidays,” said Ilene Sameth, Executive Director of CBST, “The combination of our powerful services, our Open Door policy and the Javits Center’s massive seating capacity means that CBST will house upwards of 3500 people for a single service.”

Services take place on the evenings of October 1-2, 2006. Kol Nidre service begins at 6pm at the Javits Center and the doors open at 5pm.