Chairs: Heshie Zinman and Ellen Poster

The mission of pRiSm is to strengthen Jewish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Allied (LGBTQIA) life and identity at RS and in the world. pRiSm strives to create an inclusive congregation through education, advocacy, and celebration.

Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Dr. Rachel Levine held a program on “A Conversation about Adolescent Health, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity” in April 2018. Because of that program, many of our pRiSm members asked “what can we do at Rodeph Shalom to make it more inclusive? What can we do to make it better?” An Audit Committee formed and the following changes have been made to create a more inclusive community.

  • All bathrooms are gender-neutral and allows for LGBTQ members and guests, as well as our RS community to feel safe using an RS restroom
  • Rainbow mezuzot are affixed to the Green Street entrance and the Beth Ahavah Historical Sacred Space. The installation of these mezuzot communicates to our RS community, including LGBTQ members and guests, that LGBTQ individuals are welcome and safe at Rodeph Shalom.
  • The Beth Ahavah Historical Sacred Space was recently dedicated in May 2019. Congregation Beth Ahavah was founded in 1975 as the only Reform LGBTQ synagogue in Philadelphia.Its services were held in this room from 2005 until its merger with Congregation Rodeph Shalom in 2015. Articles and memorabilia adorn the walls of this sacred space.

Education, Advocacy, and Celebration:

pRiSm works to create an inclusive community is through education, advocacy, and celebration. Over the years, pRiSm has welcomed guest speakers such as Dr. Rachel Levine, Sarah McBride, Brian Sims, Malcolm Kenyatta, and other notable members of the LGBTQ community who have shared their stories and raised awareness about LGBTQ issues. pRiSm has also celebrated the LGBTQ community through Pride Shabbat, the Beth Ahavah Historical Sacred Space dedication, and Outfest. 

Upcoming Events:

Torah Queeries: Reading the weekly Parashat from an LGBTQ Perspective taught by Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell

What do our sacred texts say to us today? How do our beloved and complex and often problematic texts help us to shape our lives, make ethical decisions, and honor the sacredness of every human being?  Join us on the dates listed below from 7:00-8:30pm as we dive into the weekly portion and explore these and many other questions. No Hebrew or text study background necessary. 

Wednesday, October 28:    Parashat Lech Lechat

Wednesday, November 11: Parashat Chayei Sarah

Tuesday, November 24:     Parashat Vayetze

Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, PhD. has been studying Torah for fifty years. A contributor to Torah Queries (2009), edited by Drinkwater, Lesser and Shneer, and The Queer Bible Commentary (2006), edited by Guest, Goss, West and Bohache,, she edited the ground-breaking Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation (2001) with Alpert and Idelson, the prize-winning Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives (2013) with Fuchs Kreimer, and The Open Door Haggadah (2002). She also served as Poetry Editor for The Torah: A Womens’ Commentary (2008), edited by Eskenazi and Weiss.

Shabbat Service with National Coming Out Day
Friday, October 16 at 6:00pm

In this New Year time of transformation and rebirth, Shabbat services on October 16 will celebrate National Coming Out Day


pRiSm Reflections:

January/February Bulletin: "Trans Talk"
March/April Bulletin: "Transgender Day of Visibility"
June Bulletin: "Pride Month"


Lindsay Shuster reads Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk