Chairs: Heshie Zinman and Ellen Poster

About pRiSm:

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.

Dr. Rachel Levine, now the Assistant Secretary for Health, Dept. of Health and Human Services, 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. 


Past Events:

Count Their Names: The Nazi Persecution of Gay People


When the names and numbers of Holocaust victims are commemorated and mourned, one group of victims is often uncounted – gay people. It is for the most shameful reason – the persecution of gay people in Nazi Germany successor states continued after World War II.

Join together on International Holocaust Remembrance Day for a discussion with historian Dr. Jake Newsome and JProud Program Manager Galia Godel about the persecution of gay people during the Nazi era.

Sponsored by pRiSm (the RS LGBTQ+ connection group), The Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, and in collaboration with  JProud, a program of Jewish Family and Children Services of Greater Philadelphia and the William Way LGBT Community Center.

pRiSm Reflections:

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

Equality Act:

The Equality Act (H.R. 5/S.393) recently passed the House of Representatives. Now, it is time for the Senate to guarantee federal civil rights protections to all LGBTQ people. Please urge the Senate to swiftly pass the Equality Act. 

Currently, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender non-conforming (LGBTQ) people face discrimination in a wide variety of areas. Aligned with our Reform Jewish values, The Equality Act will address discrimination against LGBTQ people by amending existing civil rights laws to include protections based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

Call your Senator's offices or The Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or call SAGE at (833) 774-0717 to get connected to your Senators automatically. Write your Senators or use the line on the The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism website to contact your Senators on the Equality Act.

Contact Chip Ellis and Heshie Zinman for information.