Are you at wits end with what to do with your Friday evening? Why not hop over to the West London Synagogue for the Pride Shabbat Service and Dinner, where the renowned London Gay Men’s Chorus (the largest gay male-voice choir in Europe) will be performing in celebration of London Pride 2014.
Last year, the London Gay Men’s Chorus made its first-ever appearance at the West London Synagogue on Sunday 1st December 2013 in a concert entitled ‘Al HaNissim-A Night of Miracles‘, which marked both World AIDS Day and the fifth night of Chanukah.
At the time, Senior Rabbi at West London Synagogue, Baroness Julia Neuberger said: “I am thrilled that my community has taken the initiative in collaborating with the London Gay Men’s Chorus. We are enormously proud to be partnering the Chorus in its first major partnership with the Jewish community. There could scarcely be a better symbol of West London Synagogue’s inclusive philosophy and day-to-day practice than this remarkable service and concert, marking both World AIDS Day and the fifth night of Chanukah.”
This year, celebrating 25 years since the first openly lesbian or gay rabbis were ordained in the UK, the West London Synagogue will host a special Pride Shabbat programme — comprising Kiddush, a Friday night service, and chavurah.
The event takes place today, Friday 27 June 2014 from 7pm and the key collaborating organisations include Beit Klal Yisrael, the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group and West London Synagogue.
The service will also feature more than 50 voices of the London Gay Men’s Chorus. As well as taking part in the service, the LGMC will also perform a selection of topical numbers at the chavurah that follows, alongside critically acclaimed lesbian comedian, Jen Brister.
There will be a bring-and-share buffet with bar and those attending are asked to provide vegetarian dishes and wine.
A special Pride exhibition by Rainbow Jews, an oral history and archive project exploring the intersection of Jewish and LGBT identities, will be open to view throughout.
Speaking about tonight’s Pre-Pride Chavurah, Rabbi David Mitchel said: “West London Synagogue has long been a welcoming home for members of the LGBT community; so it is with great pride that we are hosting this special Shabbat of celebration.
Two years ago our sanctuary was full of joyous music — but what really struck me was that several people were crying tears of joy that a mainstream, high-profile synagogue would so openly host such a unique event.
Since then our friends at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue have agreed to alternate hosting with us and now, once again, Shabbat Pride has returned to WLS.
What an evening it’s going to be with something for everyone; from music by the London Gay Men’s Chorus, to a stirring address by my colleague and teacher Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah, marking 25 years since the ordination of openly Lesbian and Gay Rabbis. Between the buffet, bar, comedian, exhibition by Rainbow Jews, musical service and warm welcome via a Kiddush with fizz, we hope that everyone will leave feeling great pride to be both Jewish and LGBTQ.”
Everyone is welcome to the exhibition, service and Kiddush, and admission is free… I can’t think of a better way to kick-off Pride weekend.
** Photographs courtesy of Chris Calvert **