A PRIDE Shabbat service will be held for the Jewish LGBTI community in Melbourne’s largest synagogue as part of this year’s Midsumma Festival.

The Temple Beth Israel (TBI) will host the social event, which will focus on issues of inclusion, equality, and human rights.

State finalist for the Young Australian of the Year Margot Fink was chosen to be a 2016 Pride Shabbat ambassador. She said the event would be important to a lot of people.

“I think there’s an enormous importance in showing religion and being same-sex attracted or gender diverse don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” she told the Star Observer.

“I know for myself and many other religious LGBTI people it can feel like you’re at a crossroads when coming out, and that to live your truth and embrace one you have to give up the other.

“The message the Pride Shabbat sends to other religious groups is also significant… it shows if Judaism can be inclusive and embrace progress, so too can other faiths.”

The TBI hosted the first ever celebration of the LGBTI community in a Victorian synagogue in 2013. For many of the 350 attendees it was the first time they had been invited into a congregation.

Fink said this celebration would be particularly significant for young people.

“It’s very exciting to show that LGBTI people are not just tolerated in Judaism, but accepted and celebrated,” she said.

“Seeing that they have a place where they can belong regardless of gender or sexuality is a powerful thing.”

TBI Rabbi Kim Ettlinger believes the Pride Shabbat service has continued to attract more people since 2013.

“The TBI Pride Shabbat service has become an institution in both the Jewish and wider community,” Ettlinger said.

“Those who in the past may have felt excluded by mainstream religion are now flocking to a service that not only embraces them but celebrates them.

“As part of the Progressive Jewish movement, we pride ourselves on principles of egalitarianism, respect, and inclusivity.”

The TBI is the only synagogue to officially partner with Midsumma Festival.

Pride Shabbat will be held at the Temple Beth Israel, 76–82 Alma Rd St Kilda, at 6.15pm on Friday, January 15.

© Star Observer 2017 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex (LGBTI) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.