For many LGBT Jews, the Passover themes of liberation and standing up for the oppressed resonate on multiple levels.
“Because of our historical experience being strangers in other peoples’ lands, we should stand up for those in our own society who are vulnerable and need our support,” says Isaac Belfer, director of community affairs on the board of Bet Mishpachah. “Today when the rights and basic human dignity of many vulnerable members of our society are being threatened, we have an obligation to resist by standing up on their behalf.”
That all ties into the ethos of “Reflections on Resistance: a Decade of the National Rainbow Seder,” slated for Sunday, March 18 at 5 p.m. at the HRC building (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.). This year, Bet Mishpachah, a local, LGBT-affirming synagogue is joining Edlavitch D.C.-JCC GLOE and Israeli House Washington for the event. Abby Stein, the first openly trans woman to be ordained by an Orthodox institution, will lead the Seder. Details and tickets are here.
Belfer says the Washington-area LGBT Jewish community is “large, diverse and dynamic.” He’s been at Bet Mish for a few years but has stepped up his involvement in recent months. Find out more at betmish.org.
Belfer works by day as a patent litigation associate at a law firm. The 31-year-old Palo Alto, Calif., native came to Washington three-and-a-half years ago for work. He lives in Logan Circle and is single. Belfer enjoys reading, running, bridge, movies, theater, restaurants and classical music in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out to myself and the world when I was 27. After years of thinking that I just hadn’t met the right girl, I finally realized that no, that wasn’t the problem. Once I was ready to come out, my family and friends were unequivocally supportive and I am very grateful for that.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
My heroes are the generations of LGBT people who came before us, whose persistence and sacrifice paved the way for the tremendous progress we’ve made in the last 15 years.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Weather permitting, I’m a fan of outdoor patios and roof decks. The Trade patio is a recent favorite.
Describe your dream wedding.
In my dream wedding, I would be surrounded by family and close friends. That’s what matters.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I think every child should have a real opportunity to pursue his/her/their dreams. A big part of that is providing excellent public education and I have the highest respect for teachers who dedicate their careers to helping their students succeed. For educational opportunity to be real, though, we need to make progress on many other critical social issues, such as housing, health care and a living wage.
What historical outcome would you change?
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The Broadway opening of “Dear Evan Hansen.” What a spectacular show!
On what do you insist?
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
Probably wishing a friend happy birthday on Facebook.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Reflections on a Deliberate Life”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Advocate for using the medical breakthroughs underlying that discovery to do something that actually benefits humanity, like curing cancer.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I’m not sure. But even with my uncertainty, I feel at home in the Jewish tradition, which encourages the questioning of everything, including the nature of the divine.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Listen to people from all parts of the diverse LGBT community. We’ve made tremendous progress over the past several years, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve full acceptance of and appreciation for the full range of queer identities.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That gay guys all present themselves in a particular way. We’re a hugely diverse group and there’s no one “gay” way of talking, walking or anything else.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Call Me By Your Name”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
With smartphones always at hand, many people seem to think they need to be consuming some sort of media at all times. I like my iPhone as much as the next guy, but sometimes it’s nice to take time just to think.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
None. I’d like to achieve professional success in some form, but I don’t need a prize to tell me when I’ve gotten there.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Not to worry about what others think of me.
People here are engaged with politics and what’s going on in the world, which is my kind of culture. This city is also a great place to practice law, with a huge variety of practice areas and outstanding colleagues to learn from.