Michael will be shadowed on Sunday, January 18.
No great intrigue. Rather it’s part of the professional development program of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. The seminary asks its students to shadow clergy as part of their training. And Alex, a young colleague of Michael’s, decided among the clergy he would like to shadow, an out-gay cleric could be helpful. But there are not currently any out-gay male rabbis in the area presently. So Alex asked permission to work with Michael.
The supervisor of the seminary’s field education program is Rabbi Linda, the clergy woman who read the Hebrew Scripture portion in Hebrew, while Jill W. read it in English at Michael’s installation in June 2013. (It’s a small world, and getting smaller.) She gave him permission.
So Alex with be with Michael on Sunday — for the Confirmation Class, for worship and the New Members’ Class. And if somehow, Michael comes off “gayer” at church on Sunday, well, you all will understand that too!
Alex is in his 4th year of studies at the seminary. Originally from the Philly area, Alex grew up Jewish. He attended college in Boston where he majored in American Studies, focusing on critical race, feminist, and queer theory.
After college, Alex worked in the LGBT public health world for four years, in the areas of domestic violence education and training, and research and counseling in the areas of HIV/AIDS, sexual behavior, substance use, and medication adherence.
During this time, Alex began organizing with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice in solidarity with Domestic Workers United, and through their coalition, helped passed the first state wide domestic workers bill of rights in the country.
Uncovering a passion for community organizing, Alex began working as the Social Justice Coordinator at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the world’s largest LGBTQ synagogue, located in New York City. There, he worked with members and leadership around issues of LGBTQ-sensitive eldercare, and queer youth homelessness. From there, Alex applied the the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College where he has been a student since 2011.
Alex worked as a rabbinic intern with POWER; that’s where he met Michael. He has also served as a hospice chaplain with Jewish Family & Children’s Services and Wissahickon Hospice, and has led various teen social justice and multifaith programs.
Alex is particularly interested in the intersections of spirituality and social justice and how the two can nourish each other.
Michael expects that Old First will welcome Alex to his Sunday morning with us.