Our Legacy Community
It wasn’t so long ago that Jews who were different – gay or lesbian; open about their sexual preference – didn’t feel welcome in the Jewish community or any synagogue in the Bay Area. A small group of gay men decided this had to change, and in 1977 they assembled in a small, cold building to worship together for the first time. Those visionaries became pioneers. They were soon joined by others, men and women who dreamed of creating a progressive Jewish community where gays and lesbians could be together for prayer, community, Jewish culture and tradition.
The fledgling synagogue that would become Congregation Sha’ar Zahav (Congregation of the Golden Gate) sprang to prominence in 1978, when it led the only Jewish memorial service for Harvey Milk. Today, Sha’ar Zahav is the cornerstone of Jewish spiritual, cultural and social life for LGBT and progressive Reform Jews in the Bay Area. It has become a diverse, welcoming and inclusive community for hundreds of us.
Our achievements during the past three decades include:
We have changed the way the Jewish world thinks about LGBT Jews. Our leaders led the struggle within the Reform movement for LGBT equality, including the right to marry. Many synagogues are now more welcoming, due in part to the impact of our presence in the Jewish world. Dozens of our members have gone on to become rabbis, cantors and educators.
We are a model for the way that an inclusive, diverse community can educate its children. Thirty years ago there was barely a thought that children would be part of our community; today we count more than 150 as Sha’ar Zahav members, with more than 80 currently receiving a progressive Jewish education in our religious school. The children we educate are entering the wider community as adult emissaries of the new world their parents and mentors at Sha’ar Zahav helped create.
Membership dues cover approximately 50% of the synagogue’s annual budget. To supplement that, our Rainbow and Chai campaigns have successfully raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and increased awareness of the need to significantly augment membership dues to support vital programs.
As we have grown and matured, we realize that dependence on these annual campaigns alone could place the fiscal health of our community in jeopardy, especially during tough economic times. By growing our Endowment Fund through Legacy gifts, we can strengthen our operating budget, allowing us to:
We ask you to consider what Sha’ar Zahav has meant to you over the course of its three decades, and what your Jewish experience might be if we did not exist today. If you have made friends, met a partner, made valuable business and social connections, or deepened your spirituality and connection to Judaism because of Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, we ask you now to express your generosity, passion and commitment by naming Sha’ar Zahav in your will or as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy, or by making an outright gift to Our Legacy Community.
Our work is not yet complete.
For more information or to get involved, please contact Irene Ogus, email@example.com, 415-305-4286.
Our Legacy Community is supported in part by the Areivim Community Legacy Project of the Jewish Community Federation.
24th of May, 2013