Coming Out

This ceremony ritually celebrates the moment that homosexuals, bisexuals, or transsexuals publicly declare their sexual identities.

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Some of us are here tonight, because we want to envision a world of justice for all people, regardless of race, age, class, ability, gender, or sexual orientation. We are here because we are part of a family, community, or society in which so many are still not free from the "Mitzrayims" of our world. We are here tonight to say that we want to be part of that vision, and we want to help make that vision a reality. We want those amongst us who mark their "coming out" tonight to know that we affirm their honesty and bravery, and we accept the honor they bestow upon us by sharing this moment of transition with us.

Sh'ma Koleinu, Hear Our Voice, O God!

The community reads responsively:

Our people have always sent our pleas heavenward, beseeching the Holy One to hear our prayers of longing, hope, thanksgiving, and praise.

But what do we tell our children who do not know their own voices?

We tell them to sing from their hearts.

We tell them to find the holy prayers within.

But what of the child who knows not how to sing?

What of the child whose prayers do not yet have words in this world?

We are all these children

We are a community.

What of the child whose melody ambles outside the sanctuary and hovers, looking on the service from afar?

What of the child whose voice speaks in the syntax of a different world?

We are all these children

We are a community when we can all beseech, Sh'ma Koleinu.

We are a community of voices, when each of us can speak the truths of our hearts.

Wine--Our Symbol of Joy

The community reads responsively:

Our people's tale is one of freedom, revelation, and the hope and work for final redemption, when all the world will be whole.

But, the final redemption is still but a dream.

Tonight's story begins with the first moments of freedom. God promised:

V'hotzeiti etchem mitachat sivlot Mitzrayim (Shemot 6:6).

And I will free you from the burdens of Mitzrayim (Exodus 6:6).

Tonight we drink four cups of wine to mark our redemption from the slavery of the closet. With each cup we move from the narrow strictures of hiding places to our vision of a better world.

Tonight, as a community, we courageously cross the sea of silence. We affirm the truths of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members in our midst who bravely come out to us and to themselves. God in Her mysterious guises, God through the hands of this supportive gathering, fulfills the promise tonight to free us all from the burden of our narrowness.

We thus invoke the promise of the first cup and recite together, raising the cup of wine:

N'varekh et ein ha-chayim, matzmichat p'ri ha-gefen.

Let us bless the source of life that ripens fruit on the vine.

Everyone drinks from the first cup.

These are our stories.

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Shoshanah Tornberg

Rabbi Shoshanah King-Tornberg serves Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, NY. She is a Jewish educator by profession and a dancer and writer by avocation.