Several Jewish organizations and congregations were represented, August 27, at Ottawa’s annual Capital Pride Parade celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. The event was the culmination of Pride Week in Ottawa which included a Pride Shabbat Dinner two days earlier organized by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the Jewish Federation of Ottawa at Kehillat Beth Israel.
“Faith and Pride is a key theme for the LGBTQ+ community in Canada this year,” said Ariella Kimmel, CIJA’s senior manager for partnerships, “because both play important roles in identity.”
Kimmel said both LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities face bigotry and hatred and CIJA established a national advisory council on LGBTQ+ issues to bring the communities together.
Tomer Chervinsky of Toronto, the CIJA council chair, was in Ottawa for the Shabbat dinner and parade.
“We’ve come across anti-Semitism in the gay community on one hand and homophobic Jews on the other,” he said. “At the council we try to bridge between the Jewish and the LGBTQ+ communities.”
Jessica Burke, another member of the council, said the Shabbat dinner was very successful.
“One hundred and four people participated,” she said, “and there was a great mix of community members and allies.”
In addition to CIJA, representatives of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, the Embassy of Israel, Kehillat Beth Israel, Temple Israel and Or Haneshamah marched in the Capital Pride Parade.
Parade participant Gabriella Goliger said the presence of Jewish organizations at the parade in recent years has been important. She recalled writing a letter published in the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin in 2010 in which she discussed that year’s Capital Pride Parade:
“I wandered lonely through the crowd of marchers, wishing I could make both my Jewish and lesbian selves visible at this grand celebration of multiple identities… How dearly I would love to stop being Jewishly invisible at Pride.”
Jon Mitzmacher, the Ottawa Jewish Community School’s new head of school, attended the parade with his wife and daughter. It was important, he said, for them to join the marchers and show support to the community.