RALEIGH, N.C. — Drawing criticism from Jewish LGBTQ people and allies, NC Pride scheduled its Pride Parade on Sept. 30. This date conflicts with Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Judaism. Many groups and Jewish individuals who normally participate in the parade and festival will not attend as a result.
Yom Kippur translates to “the Day of Atonement.” The observance consists of day-long fasting, from sundown to sundown. There are also extended services at local synagogues and places of worship. These practices are meant to redirect concentration from the physical body towards spiritual needs. Yom Kippur is a time to connect with God, make atonement for one’s own and the community’s sins, and forgive offenses against oneself.
The Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill CEO Jill Madsen was one prominent critic. Madsen’s organization has participated in NC Pride events for several years — with more than 100 marchers in last year’s parade — but will not be attending the 2017 event on their spiritual holy day.
“We’re just disappointed,” Madsen told the News & Observer. “We’ve had a large group present the last couple of years, both a booth and a float in the parade. And this year we will not be able to do that.”
A comparable conflict occurred in 1965, when a Jewish pitcher for the Dodgers, Sandy Koufax, refused to play in the first game of the World Series because the game occurred on Yom Kippur.
“Koufax inspired a generation of Jewish players that came after him,” writes the Atlantic‘s Alan Siegal. “Koufax’s famous decision occurred in 1965, barely two decades after the liberation of the concentration camps.”
This year, like Koufax, Jewish LGBTQ people and allies may have to sit out of another event. Their celebration of Pride will go unmarked, unless the event’s organizers make a big change.
“I am proud to be part of a Jewish community that promotes and embraces inclusion,” writes Carrboro resident Peter Reitsez. “I look forward to taking my children to pride celebrations and I expect to be included, not excluded, from Pride events.”
NC Pride, a weekend-long event, notes on its web page that organizers are currently working on a solution to the conflict, and promises updates as they become available.
“We feel the need to recognize this year’s conflict to our Jewish friends,” NC Pride’s apology statement read. “Ask for their forgiveness and look forward to their participation in our event in future years.
Krisha Miller, who organizes the Jewish LGBTQ group, Kol Koloteinu (“All Our Voices”), had a suggestion:
“Why not culminate in a big festival and parade Sunday afternoon?”