Beth Chayim Chadashim, founded in 1972 and recognized by the Union of Reformed Judaism in 1974, was the world’s first Gay and Lesbian synagogue. From the beginning, its members had a profound connection with its existence. They had a strong desire to make BCC a sanctuary of acceptance in a world where homosexuality and LGBTQ people were seldom discussed or tolerated.
Against the odds, those tenacious first members kept BCC alive. When the community moved into a run-down storefront in 1977, it was not the beauty of the building that created their sanctuary, but the investment of tremendous love, devotion, and sacrifice by a small but growing congregation. When AIDS hit the community in the early eighties, its impact on BCC was devastating. As the wall of remembrance grew, the resolve of the congregation to remain alive grew as well.
Many of those early members are no longer with us. Their deaths were unconscionably premature, leaving a hole in the tenuous fabric of life that BCC’s community had begun to create. Yet some of those early souls had a vision and dedication that reached far beyond their years. Many of them left legacies that have greatly impacted our lives to this day. These visionary members chose to leave a portion of their estates to strengthen BCC, wanting to assure there would always be a safe place where others could explore their deep connection to Judaism in a caring and accepting environment. It is largely due to their actions that BCC was able to thrive through difficult times.
As survivors and beneficiaries of the generous visionaries whose bequests have come to BCC over its first 50 years, we are fortunate to stand witness to their vision. We now have an opportunity to continue their legacies though our own plans, to provide for those who follow in our footsteps.
You are invited to become a member of the L’Chayim Legacy Circle, to join with our remarkable founding members in ensuring that BCC will not only survive but will thrive for many years to come.