The Summer Our Rainbow Flag Became a Red Flag

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Rabbi Lisa Edwards has published yet another piece in Jewish Journal – About the Chicago Dyke March controversy. Start reading here.

The Jan. 31,1969, cover of Time magazine bore the headline “Black vs. Jew: A Tragic Confrontation.” Our rabbi brought a copy to our class of high school juniors and seniors, and used it as an opportunity to teach us a Latin expression.

“Cui bono?” he asked. “ ‘Who benefits’ from a cover and a story like this?”

I walked away from our discussion that night with an understanding that has served me all these years. Of course there will be disagreements among friends and those with shared values and passions, but can we avoid letting those disagreements distract us from the causes and people most deserving of our attention?

The disputes we’re encountering this summer stop us from working together and, more importantly, from sitting together and making a deliberate effort to understand where we are coming from and where we might go together.

My brother, Larry Edwards, is rabbi emeritus of the LGBT synagogue Congregation Or Chadash in Chicago. Long a participant in the Chicago queer Jewish community, he has been reflecting on the recent conflicts, especially the one that originated in Chicago last month.

He writes: “By now many are familiar with the controversy surrounding Chicago’s Dyke March on June 24. (And I want to clarify up front — because there does seem to be some confusion out there — that the event was not the Chicago Pride Parade. The Pride Parade, held the next day, has always been open to wide and diverse participation.) My friend Laurie Grauer, a longtime member of my former congregation and a long-time participant in Chicago Dyke Marches, was asked to leave because of a flag. Or perhaps not just because of the flag, but because she was closely questioned about her Zionist affiliation, and told that there was no space for a Zionist in this Dyke March.

“The flag in question was designed and produced by members of Congregation Or Chadash in Chicago during the time that I served as its rabbi. As far as I know, this was the first version of this flag, a Star of David on a Rainbow flag, though similar versions may have been produced elsewhere. It was a fundraiser, as well as a way to express — both playfully and seriously — queer Jewish identity. It was carried by us in numerous Pride Parades, typically to cheers from many in the crowd. So it was a bit surprising to hear that Laurie was harassed for carrying our flag, or that it was perceived by some in the crowd as a ‘trigger’ which made them feel threatened.” Continue reading in the Jewish Journal

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