Since 1973, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah has tried to reconcile traditions transmitted across the millenniums with traditions that its members — gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews — have often had to make up on the fly, battling hostility, indifference and the AIDS epidemic at the same time.
The congregation hopes to win a variance from the Buildings Department to permit a single eight-stall restroom, rather than separate women’s and men’s rooms, out of sensitivity to those members whose gender identity is not such a simple matter. Referring to the common abbreviation L.G.B.T., Gabriel Blau, the director of development, said, “We take the ‘T’ very seriously.”
In a development that would certainly have been impossible for the founding members to predict, the new synagogue will include a 625-square-foot classroom for youngsters. The congregation now counts about 200 children among its families, Mr. Blau said. (His 4-year-old son is among them.)
All told, the congregation hopes to raise $17 million to $18 million to cover the entire project, including the purchase. Mr. Blau said that $11 million had been pledged and that construction would not begin until the fund-raising was completed. If that goal is reached quickly, there is a chance that the new synagogue could be open during the congregation’s 40th anniversary year. But Passover 2014 may be more realistic.
Read the the full article by David W. Dunlap of the New York Times at: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/synagogue-for-a-gay-congregation-designed-with-acoustics-in-mind/?_r=0.