The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
In 1973 being gay and being Jewish was a radical idea.
When thirteen gay Jews gathered on a Friday night in February to welcome Shabbat in the annex of the Church of the Holy Apostles, they had little notion that while creating a spiritual home for themselves, they would also be transforming the world. Having the courage to affirm their identities, they became the founders of what was to become Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. Today, nearly forty years later, CBST is the spiritual home to more than 900 members and is known as the world’s leading LGBT synagogue.
CBST’s vibrant and diverse membership includes singles and couples of every sexual orientation and gender identity, young and old, individuals with and without children, from all walks of life, from the most secular to the most observant, and from every branch of Judaism. To meet the needs of this extraordinarily diverse congregation, CBST provides a broad spectrum of ritual observance and liturgy, ranging from traditional and liberal to highly innovative.
For thirty-five years CBST has made its home in a windowless, out-of-the way artists’ loft on Bethune Street, which is as remote and difficult to find as it is cramped for space. To accommodate its weekly Friday night services, the congregation has been obliged to rent additional space in a church in another neighborhood. For nearly sixteen years, the Mishkan and the Site Selection committees have been searching for a permanent home to accommodate the growing attendance at Friday night services, and the ever-increasing need for gathering spaces, classrooms, and administrative offices all within a single location.
At last, the time has come for CBST—building on the shoulders of those who came before—to build a home of its own, worthy of its past, present and future.