Book Description

Review This wonderfully illustrated volume looks back on four decades at a groundbreaking New York City synagogue and its LGBTQS community... The many personal glimpses of CBST members scattered throughout this account add much interest, poignancy and humor... But what comes through most strongly is the congregation's feeling that at CBST they've found a home--an inclusive, welcoming home that takes its spiritual and social responsibilities seriously, with a side of joy and song.Well-written, valuable history of a unique synagogue at the crux of social change.-Kirkus ReviewThe handsomely designed book traces the synagogue's history, drawing on archival materials, photographs, first-person accounts, recorded interviews, early newsletters (which were mailed in unmarked envelopes to protect members' identities) and newspaper accounts and includes profiles of its lay and rabbinic leaders. It is also a larger story of what was going on in New York City over these years and the evolution of the LGBT movement -- and an important contribution to American Jewish history. -The Jewish WeekReleased in September of this year, Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen's story of the first 40 years of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City combines history with personal accounts, and a rich selection of images. Covered in 40 years are the early struggles, the first full-time rabbi, the AIDS crisis, the baby boom, and same-sex marriage.-The AdvocateThis profusely illustrated history of the world's second gay synagogue, which was established in New York City in 1973 (the first was in L.A.), is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Ayelet Cohen, who served in the early 2000's as a rabbi at the West Side's Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, has pulled together a trove of information: archives, photographs, and interviews with members, rabbis, and rabbinical interns. ...Changing Lives can serve as a model for any institution faced with the challenging task of writing its history.-Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide Review Read more About the Author Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen is a writer, teacher, and activist. She is the inaugural Director of The Center for Jewish Living and The David H. Sonabend Center for Israel at The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan. Rabbi Cohen served for a decade at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the world's LGBTQ synagogue serving Jews of all sexual orientations and sexual identities. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, she is the author of Changing Lives, Making History: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the First Forty Years, and co-editor of Siddur B'chol L'vavcha. Read more