J-Pride Adding Shabbat Morning Presence At Pride

Where other organizations or business that take place at Pride Festival in Loring Park all weekend long, J-Pride’s presence has been limited to marching in Sunday’s parade and staffing the booth in the park. But not this year.

For the first time since it took part in Pride 13 years ago, J-Pride will have Shabbat morning services near the Berger Fountain on the east side of Loring Park on the Loring Greenway. The service is being developed and led by Amy Ariel and Shana Rosenberg.

“It’s always been a conversation about why we aren’t there,” on Shabbat, said JFCS Minneapolis’ J-Pride Program Coordinator Heather Renetzky. “The booth will be closed as in the past, but just because it isn’t open doesn’t mean we need to be absent from Loring Park.”

Renetzky said that Ariel brought up the idea last year of doing something Shabbat-related at Pride.

“One of the things I know is that Jews are at pride on Saturday,” Ariel said. “While it’s wonderful that synagogues do a Pride Shabbat, it doesn’t change that people are Jewish will be at pride. We’re honoring that it’s possible to be Jewish and queer in the same place at same time.

“If people will be in a synagogue that’s fantastic, and I encourage wishing a chag pride sameach. But if you’re interested in being close to Loring Park, or who aren’t affiliated, or that synagogue may not be their thing, Shabbat is coming to them.”

Ariel has been a Jewish educator for more than 20 years and will be ordained as a rabbi on June 30, and Eisenberg is a song leader and educator. The two have worked together a lot over the past decade, and are creating a siddur for this weekend, and there will be an American Sign Language interpreter on hand for those who need it.

“I love this sort of thing,” Eisenberg said. “I love planning a service that has a unique setting and feel. I love working with Amy. We easily gel our ideas.”

Eisenberg said that the timing for planning a service works nicely; she just returned Hava Nashira, the annual songleading and music workshop of the Union of Reform Judaism.

“A lot of the songs happened to be for pride and about inclusion. I just heard all these new tunes,” she said. “There will be a few new things that people haven’t heard that will be really appropriate for this service.”