Holidays, Celebrations, and Commemorations

Holidays celebrated at Sha’ar Zahav are both the ones we may have learned about as children and those unfolding for us in our evolving world, such as LGBTQ Pride. We often create our own prayers and rituals reflecting how Judaism inspires us in our modern lives. For example, CSZ hosts an annual Transgender Remembrance Shabbat, comprised of readings from Siddur Sha’ar Zahav.

Sha’ar Zahav also celebrates the diversity of Jewish tradition by hosting Klezmer Shabbat and a Veterans Day commemoration service.

Here are a few examples from Siddur Sha’ar Zahav.

Yom HaShoah | Yom HaAtzma’utTransgender Celebration Shabbat
LGBTQIQ Pride ShabbatTransgender Day of Remembrance

Recovery Shabbat

Springtime is a period of rebirth in the natural world, and in the Jewish calendar. The holidays of Tu BiSh’vatPurim and Pesach all share motifs of redemption and rebirth. CSZ has long recognized that recovery from alcoholism and similar diseases is also a form of personal rebirth and redemption, and in recent years the congregation has developed an annual Shabbat service around this theme. Recovery Shabbat is celebrated in April, tying it both to Pesach‘s redemption theme and also to National Alcohol Awareness Month in the United States.

Yom HaShoah

On Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Commemoration Day, the 27th of Nisan), we remember the millions of Jewish and LGBTQ people and their allies who died at the hands of the Nazis. The Yizkor prayer includes memorials for Jewish martyrs and for those who perished in the Holocaust. Other appropriate readings include the “Blessing for Social Action,” Communal Prayer of Remembrance” and the memorial blessing for heroes and community activist.

Yom HaAtzma’ut

Yom HaAtzma’ut is Israel Independence Day, the fifth day of Iyar. In 1948, this was the day on which the State of Israel was born, following Britain’s withdrawal from the region and the UN’s recognition of the new country. Readings for this day may reflect the significance of Eretz Yisrael, the beauty and natural features of the land, or the political issues that continue to affect the region. Several appropriate selections are found in Siddur Sha’ar Zahav, such as Psalms of Hallel and songs in the Shirim section.

Transgender Celebration Shabbat

The third Shabbat evening in May was first celebrated as Transgender Celebration Shabbat at CSZ in San Francisco in 2006. This annual holiday is a community-wide Festival honoring the transgender and gender-queer community and the living diversity of creation. Transgender Celebration Shabbat joyously acknowledges the bravery and uniqueness of the living members of our community.

LGBTQIQ Pride Shabbat

The Shabbat preceding the last Sunday in June commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City on June 27, 1969, when gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people and other queer people rose up in an expression of bravery, freedom and pride. Today, decades later and with considerable progress made in securing equal rights for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation or gender, LGBTQIQ community honors diversity of all forms with Pride celebrations. Appropriate readings are sprinkled throughout our siddur.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we hold a service in memory of all those who were killed because of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. It has been observed at Sha’ar Zahav on the Shabbat preceding the November 20 anniversary of the murder of Rita Hester, a transgender person killed on that date in 1998.