Changing Lives, Making History: Congregation Beit Simchat Torah The First Forty Years

Ayelet S. Cohen. Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (www.cbst.org), $50 (320p) ISBN 978-0-9794009-1-9
This history of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, a thriving synagogue for gays and lesbians in New York City that is the most influential of its kind, begins with an ad in The Village Voice offering Friday night services in a church basement, takes readers through the AIDS crisis and the loss of many of the congregation's key members, and CBST's search for a rabbi and a home, among many other hurdles. The accounting ends at the 40th anniversary of its founding, by which time CBST has become one of the most intellectually serious, spiritually vibrant, and socially involved synagogues in the country by all counts, appealing to many different types of people, at all ages and stages of life. It includes an accounting of CBST's impact on gay rights, and on the acceptance of GLBT people in the general and Jewish communities. Narrated clearly, and creatively laid out, this retrospective's enormous detail is an asset rather than a burden to the reader, allowing a full appreciation of the impact of this remarkable synagogue. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Genre: Religion
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