Annual Gay Pride parade attracts thousands to downtown Atlanta.

Annual Gay Pride parade attracts thousands to downtown Atlanta.

SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //

Atlanta Pride, a weekend of programs and activities aimed at showing support for and raising awareness about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people, is set for Oct. 12-13 this year.

A highlight of the weekend is a grand parade, one of the largest Pride festivals in the country. About 30,000 people attended the parade last year, including many in the Jewish community.

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“Our goal is that the Jewish community participates, especially in the parade Oct. 13,” said Rebecca Stapel-Wax, director of SOJOURN: The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender & Sexual Diversity (formerly The Rainbow Center, a program of Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta).

Last year 16 organizations participated with 85 individual marchers and eight rabbis. This year, SOJOURN reports there are already 25 organizations involved.

“We are aiming to raise that number to a double Chai level with 36 organizations and 100 individuals,” said Stapel-Wax.

The main mission of Pride is to provide the GLBT community with cultural and educational programs and activities that enhance mental and physical health, provide social support and foster an awareness in the general community.

Recently The Temple and Temple Sinai participated in the Welcoming Synagogues Project (WSP) with the goal of making their synagogues more inclusive to GLBT members and potential members.

This year at Purim off Ponce, SOJOURN’s annual fundraiser, Rabbi Loren Lapidus and Rabbi Bradley Levenberg, the rabbis that spearheaded the WSP will be honored with the newly named Michael J. Kinsler Rainmaker Award.

“Out of all of the Tikkun Olam events I have been to, I knew it (Pride) was the place where my presence made the most difference,” said Rabbi Lapidus.

SOJOURN hopes Jews from throughout the community will get involved with GLBT issues.

“Pride really connects to our Jewish values,” said Stapel-Wax. “It inspires – and is inspired by – Kavod (respect), B’Tzelem Elohim (made in G-d’s image), Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh (communal responsibility), Shmirat Halashon (guarding one’s language) and V’ahavtah L’Reiecha Kamocha (love your neighbor as yourself).

“When you’re at Pride, there is nothing like having 300,000 people cheer you on,” she said. “The visibility of the Jewish community and its sheer presence is unparalleled.”

The 411

The parade will take place October 13 at 1 p.m. Participants will meet at the Civic Center Marta Station and march to Piedmont Park. For more information or directions, or to let the Rainbow Center know you’re coming, contact Rebecca Stapel-Wax at (404) 275-4637 or facebook.com/sojourngsd

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