Metro Weekly

Shabbat for Solidarity: Bet Mishpachah’s inclusive inauguration service

An Inauguration Weekend event brings together people targeted by hostile groups


Photo: Studio Porto Sabbia

For Josef Palermo, the 2016 presidential campaign not only marked the rise of the alt-right, but highlighted some of the most divisive and inflammatory rhetoric in politics, a great deal of it tinged with anti-Semitism.

“There was a lot of concern around images seen on social media,” says the director of the Kurlander Program for GLBTQ Outreach and Engagement at the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C. “There was a lot of coded language that was used to refer to ‘globalists’ that many in the Jewish community felt were targeted towards our community.”

Wanting to address that rhetoric, GLOE and local LGBT synagogue Bet Mishpachah decided to host a panel discussion focusing on how anti-Semitism intersects with homophobia and transphobia, followed by a progressive, egalitarian service and a networking reception where people can make new contacts in the hope of creating strong alliances for upcoming social justice fights.

Capitalizing on Bet Mishpachah’s regular Friday night services, as well as the sheer number of people expected to visit D.C. for Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington next weekend, the two groups extended invitations to other groups who felt marginalized or targeted by inflammatory rhetoric during the past year, including Latino and immigrant communities, Muslims, African-Americans and people with disabilities.

“The idea behind this program was to find solidarity with other communities at a time when there’s…bigotry all around us,” says Palermo. “This is meant to provide an outlet for people to come together and overcome, and not let this type of hate speech pull us apart any further.”

The “LGBT Inauguration Shabbat: Strengthening One Another” is from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20 at the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C., 1529 16th St. NW. Visit

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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