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Pet Blessing honors four-legged family

Rabbi Joshua Lesser

Atlanta's LGBT-founded synagogue Congregation Bet Haverim hosts two events during Atlanta's “Stonewall Month” celebrations. The first, a pet blessing and picnic at Mason Mill Park, will be held June 23.

The pet blessing will be a unique event, said Bet Haverim Rabbi Rabbi Joshua Lesser, who is gay.

LGBT people, especially those without children, often form a unique bond with their pets, Lesser added.

In addition to more typical house pets, Lesser said any and all animals are welcome to the event.

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Atlanta’s Joshua Lesser named one of America’s ‘most inspiring’ rabbis

Rabbi Joshua Lesser

Rabbi Joshua Lesser from Atlanta’s Congregation Bet Haverim was named by The Jewish Daily Forward as one of America's “most inspiring” rabbis alongside 35 other Jewish spiritual leaders this week.

Lesser is openly gay. Congregation Bet Haverim was founded by lesbians and gays and is now home to a diverse Reconstructionist community.

Amy Robertson, a member of Congregation Bet Haverim, doted on the rabbi in her nomination:

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Gay Atlanta rabbi discusses New Year’s resolutions with CNN


Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Atlanta's Congregation Bet Haverim was a guest on CNN to talk about ways to include faith-based resolutions as we ring in 2013 tonight.

Lesser, who is openly gay (and a proud gym enthusiast), praises working on physical fitness as a resolution. But faith is also something we can work on, he said.

"Our bodies and minds and our spirits are all connected and we need to attend to them and the New Year is a great time to check in," he said.

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‘Festival of Lights’ celebrates diversity

The annual “Festival of Lights” Hanukkah celebration, held at the LGBT-inclusive Congregation Bet Haverim on Dec. 14, promises activities to appeal to all ages under the overall theme of diversity.

Hanukkah is an event that can often seem to appeal more to children than adults, according to CBH Executive Director Amy Robertson. She and the staff are looking to change that.

“In our early years, we didn’t have a lot of children here, but over time we have had more and more families,” says Robertson. “We want to make the evening one where everyone can have a great time.”

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Gay rabbi leads State of the City invocation

Rabbi Joshua Lesser

Openly gay Rabbi Joshua Lesser from Congregation Bet Haverim delivered the invocation at Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's State of the City speech this morning at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Gay politicos praised Lesser this morning after he delivered the invocation.

Joan Garner, a lesbian member of the Fulton County Commission, posted “Rabbi, what inspiring words this morning at the State of the City Breakfast. Thank you!” to Lesser's Facebook page earlier this morning.

Openly gay Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan sent out a Tweet during Lesser's invocation with a photo of the rabbi addressing the crowd. “Go Josh!” the Tweet read.

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Atlanta mayor to kick OWS protesters out of Woodruff Park

Rabbi Joshua Lesser at City Hall

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced this afternoon that he was reneging on his promise to allow Occupy Wall Street protesters freedom to remain in Atlanta's Woodruff Park until early November.

During a press conference at City Hall, Reed said that events over the weekend led to his decision to revoke his previous executive order. A two-day hip-hop concert, called Atlanta Hip-Hop Day Free Concert Festival, was scheduled to be held in Woodruff Park on Oct. 23-24, but organizers failed to provide the city with an adequate security plan, according to the mayor. The use of a power generator without a permit was also a cause to shut down the event, Reed added.

Around a half-dozen Occupy Atlanta protesters were present during the often-heated press conference. OWS Atlanta members shouted several times that Reed was lying or fabricating his reasons for the eviction.

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Jewish contingency out and proud at Atlanta Pride

Atlanta’s Jewish community is coming together the day after Yom Kippur to march for the first time in the Atlanta Pride parade on Sunday, Oct. 9. Typically, the day after Yom Kippur — the Day of Atonement that...
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LGBT forum with Atlanta mayor, police chief rescheduled for November

Nov. 1 is the new date for a town hall forum hosted by the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Board with Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta Police Chief George Turner. The meeting will take place from 7-8:30 p.m. at Saint Mark United Methodist Church.

Originally scheduled for Sept. 28, the meeting was moved after leaders of Congregation Bet Haverim, Atlanta's gay-founded Reconstructionist synagogue, objected that it conflicted with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which begins that night.

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Gay-led Atlanta synagogue wants LGBT town hall slated for Jewish holiday to be rescheduled

Congregation Bet Haverim, Atlanta's gay-founded Reconstructionist synagogue, released an open letter today expressing disappointment that an LGBT town hall forum with Mayor Kasim Reed is scheduled for Sept. 28, the start of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.

The letter, signed by Congregation Bet Haverim President Jeri L. Kagel and Rabbi Joshua Lesser, asks that the "problematic" meeting date be rescheduled out of "communal respect." It is addressed to the Atlanta Police LGBT Advisory Committee and copied to the mayor's office.

The public forum is a project of the mayor and the advisory board, a citizen panel founded in the wake of the botched 2009 police raid on the Atlanta Eagle gay bar.

"There are Rosh Hashanah services in synagogues of all denominations across Atlanta and it is one of the few times during the year when Jews of all degrees of observance attend services," the letter stated. "If the meeting remains on this date our congregants, other LGBT Jews and straight allies, will not have the opportunity to hear two of our city’s leaders address important issues about police interaction within the LGBT community."