This is the Schneider-Farris Family's Blog. Keep up with what we are doing by logging into this site regularly! (The reason this site is called "Tragedy and Triumph" is that when I first founded this site, my husband, Dan, had been in a horrible accident, and he recovered. His recovery was a miracle! Go back to the 2005 archives to read our story.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Response to Letter Sent to Entire Colorado Springs Jewish Community

Just a few days ago, a letter appeared in the email boxes of many of the members of the Jewish community in Colorado Springs.  The letter addressed a very sensitive issue.

The person who wrote the letter is a person I have met and discussed issues of Judaism with every year (for about seven or eight years) in the mountains when my family celebrates Rosh Hashanah.  I have enjoyed the discussions I've had with him very much and know that even if his letter may have seemed to have a goal of creating dissension, that that individual enjoys discussing "just about anything" and did not mean to directly hurt, he just wanted to start a "hot" discussion among Jews because he believes discussion promotes the continous learning that has been encouraged in the Jewish community throughout time.

Now, let me talk about the letter that was sent to almost the entire Colorado Springs Jewish community:

The letter was actually sent to one particular individual who is a recent convert to Judaism and then a copy of that four-page letter was sent to a list of people who had allowed their email addresses to be posted in a temple directory.

The person who received the original letter had allowed his name and email address to be posted on the temple website and newsletters that announced that if anyone was interested, that a Chavurah group for the gay and lesbian community in our city was available.

I believe most people who saw the announcement of that group didn't give it much thought since it is known that most modern Jewish people of today are supportive of what may be considered a "non-conservative line of thinking."  For example, for several years, members of the Colorado Springs Jewish community have shown their support for gay rights by taking part in the Colorado Springs Gay Pride Parade.

The letter sent to the new convert to Judaism (with copies to the entire Colorado Springs Jewish community) made it very clear that there are people in the Colorado Springs Jewish community that do not believe that supporting gay rights is okay.  The letter is four pages long.

I have read the letter over and over again.  My concern is that the person who this letter was sent to will now no longer feel welcome in the Colorado Springs Jewish community, so below is a text message I sent to the young man who received the letter:

"The letter sent to you has caused discussion in my house. I was disturbed since you are new to Judaism and the letter did not seem like a welcoming letter. I know you have grown up in a city that is so very conservative and I want you to know the letter caused me to wonder how I have survived in this city for so long. It seems at times that there are people here who believe they have the right to tell others how to live, but I felt, until now, that most Jews here had liberal thoughts and believed in diversity and were accepting of just about anyone.  Anyway,  I just want you to know that my family and others in the Colorado Springs Jewish community do welcome you!"   

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Jo Ann Schneider Farris has participated in skating for most of her life as a competitor, coach, and author.