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06/07/2022 09:55:21 AM


“Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

Being from Kansas, I have always identified myself with the 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. I grew up watching it on TV and was extremely frightened by the witches. I then loved the musical Wicked and in general, the story continues to enchant me. The Jewish summer camp I attended as staff and faculty is in the small town of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. I was surprised to learn that the world premiere of the film, The Wizard of Oz, was held in the summer of 1939 in this small Wisconsin town. Why not in Kansas? It turns out the term “premiere” is a bit overstated. There were no stars or pomp and circumstance there. The producers simply wanted to test the film in the Midwest before its general opening three days later.
Of the many great lines in the film, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore” sticks out as an important reminder that things change. I, therefore, think it apt that Judy Garland and the film have become a beloved gay icon in our society. What could be truer than the realization that the reality of today is far different than that of yesterday?

When it comes to pride, LGBTQ+ rights, and openness to diversity, Reform Judaism has come a long, long way in a few short years. When I was being ordained, we were still debating whether queer Jews should become rabbis. Some professors at my seminary did not want to sign any queer graduate’s ordination certificate. Imagine that!

While we still have far to go as a movement and a society, it is important to celebrate the advancements. In my previous congregation, the synagogue had a large and impressive float in the city’s annual gay pride parade. It was always wonderful to see the reaction of so many participants who suddenly understood one could be queer and religious at the same time.

On Friday night, June 17, at our 7:30 worship service we will celebrate gay pride month. I hope we will have a good turnout to rejoice in Shabbat, pride, and not being in Kansas anymore!

Sun, February 5 2023 14 Sh'vat 5783