It’s been 40 years since Etz Chaim opened its doors as a welcoming place to both the Jewish and LGBT community. As the Executive Director, Rabbi Noah Kitty has seen first-hand the support and friendship of the community.

“I’ve been in South Florida since 2002, when I left my pulpit in Vermont to take care of my mother, after my father passed suddenly,” Kitty said. “I've stayed because of the community, the support and friendship I've received personally from the LGBT community, and from the general Jewish community.”

Along with weekly services, High Holiday services, and Passover services, Kitty said the new Temple Beth Torah in Tamarac has instituted a special monthly speaker series that has featured Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz, former Senator Nan Rich, and judge Lisa Porter. Kitty said religious organizations are much more welcoming in recent years.

“For LGBT Jews, the question is not how to locate a welcoming synagogue, but which of the many local synagogues to join.”

While there is still work to be done, Kitty believes the many battles have been won.

“I believe the LGBT community has won the war of social and legal acceptance,” Kitty said. “I am confident that our work for marriage equality will soon succeed in Florida.”

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