Gay Jewish Kenmore and Temple Emanu-el alum

Posted by  Howard Katz

Posted on  3/25/04

Dear JBuff Readers-
I hope we all realize that between 5 and 10 percent of us are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (GLBT).
I went to Temple Emanu-el, which became Temple Shaarey Zedek. I loved Hebrew school (with Mr. Cass, Mrs. Post, and of course Mrs. Klein), plus a Mishnah class with Rabbi Klein. I lead services at Junior Congregation, where Mr. Seidenfeld taught a few of us boys cantillation. And I remember Howard Levy, Torah reader extraordinaire in the "big" shul, who even let us layn there, which upset some of the "old men," who were 50, which is my age now. I went to Camp Ramah in Canada for two summers, Hebrew High School, and 11th grade in Israel. I speak fluent Hebrew and some Arabic (from college). I stayed away from shul from 1978, which is when I came out, when shuls were not open to gay people, until the mid 1990s, by which time most shuls and straight shulgoers had come a long way.
In Boston I belong to Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, MA, where I am one of a dozen or so volunteer Torah readers. I layn Shabbat, High Holidays, and also Shir-Hashirim/Ruth. I'm also active in Keshet, greater Boston's GLBT Jewish education and advocacy organization, and participate in Keshet's "Tiferet" subgroup, for people who are frum or who have frumkeit in their lives (like me). I live in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, which is a bit like Allentown.
From time to time I still see the inside of the former Temple Emanu-el at Colvin and Tacoma in dreams.
Howard Katz
Kenmore 1963-1971
Philadelphia 1971-1975
Washington, DC 1975-1977
Philadelphia 1977-1985
Boston 1985-.

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