“When we imagine threats, we figure they’re around our being queer, or a combo of queer and Jewish,” says Larry Edwards, the rabbi with Or Chadash, the LGBT synagogue that found itself a target of a potential mail bomb sent from Yemen this weekend. “And the combo threats we imagine are from the radical extreme anti-gay right wing of the Jewish world,” he continues, “but even that’s far-fetched because in reality we have support even in certain Orthodox quarters.”
Or Chadash, like Emanuel congregation, which houses it, is associated with the Reform branch of Judaism. Or Chadash moved from the Unitarian Church whose address was used on the potential bomb eight years ago, shortly after Edwards became the rabbi, at Emanuel’s suggestion that they share space. “Frankly, we never imagine ourselves as an actual Jewish target of Islamic terrorists – I mean, we’re so tiny!” Or Chadash has about 100 members at any given time, but it fluctuates. “People come and go,” he says. “Thirty five years ago, when it was founded, people wanted to be gay and be able to express their Jewishness. But institutions take on a life of their own. People love it, find meaning and family in it.