In an effort to identify spiritual support needs in the LGBTQ community, Suburban Temple-Kol Ami in Beachwood will host its first “Reaching Out” program to provide resources for professionals to better care for the unique needs LGBTQ people may have. 

Lori Rosenberg, the initiative’s program coordinator, helped establish the initiative to provide a full day of educational programs

June 7 at the temple for social workers, case managers, psychologists and other helping professionals. The day of education will be followed by a Pride Shabbat June 8 and a community Havdalah June 9. 

“On my personal journey, there have been difficult times,” said Rosenberg, a University Heights resident. “When I was looking for support, I reached out to those clergy and health care professionals and I found that there was the desire to help, but not necessarily the skills to help.”

Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell and Dr. Mark McLoney will be the guest speakers during the educational day. Elwell is the founding director of American Jewish Congress Feminist Center in Philadelphia and

co-author of “The Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation.” Her feature presentation will introduce spiritual care as part of a comprehensive program of services for the LGBTQ community. 

McLoney is a primary care doctor at MetroHealth and is affiliated with MetroHealth’s Pride Network, comprised of physicians who understand the specific needs of LGBTQ patients. He will discuss gender identity, encompassing gender expression, orientation, sexuality and other diversity represented in the LGBTQ community. 

Following the presentations will be breakout groups on topics like laws affecting the LGBTQ community, potential barriers and areas of discrimination in health care, terminology and sensitivity, and the connection between art, spirituality and ritual in the LGBTQ community. 

When Rosenberg first brought up the initiative, she said it reflected on Suburban Temple’s history of being an inclusive congregation. 

“Suburban Temple has always been a warm, welcoming congregation and has a history of progressive ideas and genuine acts of social actions –

that’s a core principle of the congregation,” she said. “When I first talked about the initiative, it was just like, ‘Yes, this fits into our historical past and where we are moving forward.’”

The Cleveland Jewish News is a media sponsor of the event. 

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