THE annual Mardi Gras Shabbat will be held in Emanuel Synagogue this year, helping to celebrate Sydney’s Jewish LGBTI community and advocate for key issues affecting queer people.

The Shabbat will be held by the city’s primary Jewish LGBTI group Dayenu, a group that meets for social gatherings, to celebrate Jewish festivals, and to provide counselling, outreach, and support to the queer community.

Secretary Kim Gotlieb said that this year’s Mardi Gras float theme is “Freedom 2 Love, Love 2 B Free”. It will feature pink triangles, a symbol that emerged from the dark times of Nazi persecution of gays.

Gay Jews had to wear a pink triangle over a gold triangle to create the Magen David, the Jewish star. Dayenu now reclaims the power of these colours to represent pink for love and gold for freedom.

The Mardi Gras Shabbat service and dinner at Emanuel Synagogue are a highlight on the Dayenu calendar.

“We usually get about 100 people who stay on for the dinner after the service, which is fully kosher this year. You don’t have to be a member of Emanuel to attend, or part of the LGBTI community. All are welcome,” said Gotlieb.

“The Shabbat service and dinner are a rare opportunity for LGTBI folk to come together and celebrate our queer identity in the context of our Jewish heritage. It is particularly inspiring to see Progressive and Masorti affiliated people, together with members of Sydney’s Orthodox Jewish communities join in.”

Gotlieb said that it has been wonderful to have the Rabbis and Emanuel Synagogue supporting gender diversity, and that the Synagogue’s support of the Shabbat and ongoing commitment to LGBTI issues such as marriage equality are much appreciated.

Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio said the Synagogue’s rabbis support equality under the law and she looks forward to the day when she can officiate marriages between same-sex couples.

“We currently conduct commitment ceremonies but it is not the same,” she said.

Gotlieb wants Dayenu’s message to reach the gay community in order to promote diversity and religious tolerance.

“In 2017 we look forward to marriage equality becoming a reality so that gay couples can stand under the chuppah and be married with full rabbinic endorsement,” said Gotlieb.

The Mardi Gras Shabbat will be held on Friday 3 March. For more details click here.

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