At 5 p.m. last Friday, a line of visibly excited people — many decked out in rainbow regalia — gathered on the sidewalk outside Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the gay and lesbian synagogue in Manhattan.
Even as the brilliantly sunny Sunday of the Celebrate Israel Parade turned into an overcast and chilly start to the workweek, excitement persisted over the long-sought inclusion of a coalition of organizations representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Jews.
Midtown space will give city’s gay congregation its first street presence after 38 years hidden from view.
Jewish Week Correspondent
Michael Levine remembers the days in which members of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, founded by 12 gay men in search of a Jewish connection, met for Friday-night services in the annex of a local church.
By the time Levine joined the congregation, in 1974, its numbers had expanded from 12 to about 100, and the organization was marking its first anniversary. But its members still met in the church, which could provide chairs for the services but little else.