When I decided that it was an issue that I was a lesbian and that I was Jewish, I went to a rabbi at my temple and I asked her, can I be Jewish and gay? And she said, 'Your soul's special for a reason and you need to know that.'
And so I think that was the first time I realized that it wasn't really about me being gay but it's about people feeling accepted in our community. That's the core, I think, of Judaism -- loving and inviting the stranger in your midst, making them welcome, without qualifications.
And the more I started reading about GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender] youth and seeing the suicide rates and the crazy stuff, like more likely to get pregnant, higher uses of cocaine, everything, I was like, this is a pikuach nefesh [the Jewish value of saving a life] issue. So it's not about me, it's about them, and I need to protect people in my community. So I link it to Judaism a lot. Definitely at Pesach in terms of coming out and liberation. I just see a community that's so oppressed and the whole metaphor of Mitzrayim [Egypt] is so powerful and potent.
How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography:
Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Shulamit Izen on JEWISH VALUES." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.
For a footnote:
Jewish Women's Archive, "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Shulamit Izen on JEWISH VALUES," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.