The Blessing of Being Counted: A Shabbat Message in Honor of Pride Month

June 14, 2024

For the past 54 years, starting with the year following the Stonewall Riots, June has been “Pride Month,” “…[A]n annual celebration of the many contributions made by the LGBTQ+ community to history, society and cultures worldwide.” (https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/pride-month)

Keshet is a Boston-born organization dedicated to LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. A few years ago, Keshet’s founder and Executive Director, Idit Klein, came to TOS to speak about this groundbreaking institution, which has greatly influenced the Jewish community nationwide and around the world. This year, as food for thought over this Shabbat, I share with you in honor of Pride Month a beautiful d’var torah that was shared on Keshet’s website, which makes a powerful connection between one of the themes of this week’s Torah portion, Naso (Numbers 4:21−7:89) and Pride Month. Wondering about the census of the Israelites which is described beginning in last week’s Torah portion, Bamidbar, and continuing this week in Naso, author Jo Hirschmann writes: “Why does an omniscient God need a census? The answer, of course, is implicit in the question: The census was not conducted for God’s benefit but, rather, for the benefit of those being counted. The experience of being counted and of having one’s name carefully recorded was of vital importance to our ancestors, who were still navigating the rocky road from slavery to freedom. To be counted, then, is part of the process of claiming one’s full humanity and freedom. Furthermore, because the census was ordered by God, it is infused with a divine significance that affirms each person’s holiness. To be counted is to be blessed. To count others is to bestow a blessing upon them.”

You can read the full d’var torah here. I would also like to share with you other educational and programmatic resources related to LGBTQ equality in Jewish life:


Here at Temple Ohabei Shalom, we strive to be a community in which everyone is counted and everyone counts; where everyone is seen, each one created in the divine image, and each one infinitely unique, with unique gifts to bring to the building and sustaining of our community. 

There is still so much work to be done to build a world which honors every person, however they identify and whomever they love. It is our sacred obligation as a Jewish community to engage in that work. Our tradition teaches that the mishkan (the portable sanctuary carried through the wilderness journey and set up at the center of each place the Israelites encamped) was built out of each person’s unique gifts, and everyone of every age, ability, and identity (and all Jews who would ever be) received Torah at Sinai. We are heirs to a tradition which demands our inclusivity and recognition of one another as vital parts of the holy wholeness of our communities and our world.

Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman