September 13, 2017
I deeply regret that this year’s festival was scheduled on Yom Kippur, your holiest of days. It is my fault that you cannot join us this year. I apologize.
We have always scheduled our festival for the first week of October. Unfortunately, a clerical error by the city led to the festival being scheduled for September 30. We tried to swap with groups holding other weekends, but without luck. We accepted the new date, not appreciating the implications.
By the time we realized the issue, it was too late. We considered alternative locations that might have openings. But there aren’t many options in this area for a festival our size. We considered, too, that we had already contracted with many vendors, performers and suppliers. They had made commitments and refused others with our schedule in mind.
The Jewish community has been second to none in fighting for the rights of our community. In the 1970’s the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed a resolution calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality and a prohibition against discrimination. Your Reform Movement has fought for marriage equality in a way that few religious groups have . It ordains LGBTQ rabbis and cantors. It supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. You work hard to defend us and make us feel welcome.
Your ability to sustain a strong sense of community while embracing diversity is inspiring. Truly, you embody tikkun olam, repair of the world, in a way that few faiths do. Our untethered country could learn a lot from you.
I am truly grieved by our error.
I have been meeting with several local leaders in the Jewish community, seeking my own tikkun olam. We are exploring a variety of options. We have offered, for example, to add programming to the festival to educate people about Yom Kippur and the vital importance of the Jewish community to our community. We will be guided by your leaders’ preferences and counsel. They might reasonably conclude that we are not ready to offer such education unattended!
I cannot erase our error. I can promise that our organization will not repeat it. More than that: we will follow your lead and do the hard work that comes with inclusion and outreach.
With loving gratitude and lasting remorse,