Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley was awarded a national Belin Award for inclusion efforts.
Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley was awarded a national Belin Award for inclusion efforts. (Facebook photo)

LOWELL — At Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley, LGBTQ inclusion doesn't take the form of a specific initiative or program — it's just the norm, said one member in a news release.

This year, the congregation was honored with a national Union for Reform Judaism Belin Award. The esteemed awards were granted to eight congregations across the country for hospitality and efforts to engage members.

Temple Emanuel was awarded for what is called its "LGBTQ Uninitiative" — everyday efforts to make LGBTQ members feel safe and welcome.

These efforts include offering inclusive membership forms, bathroom signage, pronoun stickers for name tags, social events such as weddings, baby namings and b'nai mitzvah celebrations, and shared values of tolerance and respect.

"This award reflects what I have long felt as a lesbian and a member of the congregation," said temple board trustee Dana Rudolph in a news release. "That LGBTQ people are not merely accepted at TEMV, but actively included as part of the diversity of our community... Being given an award during LGBTQ Pride Month for our efforts toward LGBTQ inclusion makes it extra special."

Each of the eight winners was awarded a $1,000 grant, and 10 other congregations received honorable mention. The winners will accept the award this December at the URJ Biennial, in front of more than 5,000 expected guests, according to the release.

"These exemplary communities promote a welcoming, inclusive Judaism, and we applaud their creative approaches," said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacob in the news release.



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