From David Bucholtz:
We met in the lobby of the Double Tree Hotel at 8 AM to have a “talk”. Rachel and Dusty, two of our staff members, brought up the issue of abortion and we began a give and take discussion about the many sides, questions and opinions of this hot topic. Though it was early, and some of us did not feel like having a full on debate, we exchanged many thoughts and most of Etgar 36 expressed that they were pro-choice. We left the hotel and continued our journey – the topic of abortion going through our heads for the entire ride to Dallas. How appropriate that the same day we were speaking about abortion, we find out that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court.
When we arrived in Dallas, we met with Pastor John Reyes of Operation Save America. This is a pro-life organization. John came with his wife, a small child, a man with a video camera and a few other people. John started our discussion by showing us two poster size pictures of a 21-week-old mutilated fetus with detached limbs and a scarred face and body. The other poster was of a 20-week-old burnt fetus. Both pictures were very disturbing.
Flaunting the gruesome photos in front of us, we began to ask Pastor John our questions. Even when one of our members asked him to put down the pictures that made us uncomfortable, Pastor John refused by saying that these pictures represent reality and sometimes we all need to face an uncomfortable reality in order to create change. We asked questions about Pastor John’s views on birth control, what if the mother’s life is in danger before the birth, sex education in the public schools and whether a fetus is a living human being. He refuted our ideas by using passages from the old and new testaments and went on to compare abortion to the Holocaust. He truly knew his audience and took every one of our questions and explained his views. Though some agreed and disagreed with his views, we are all better people because we can share our ideas and be open to others opinions.
The “meeting after the meeting” with Pastor John
After our debate we made our way over to the Sixth Floor Museum and the site where President John F Kennedy was assassinated. Billy led a discussion with us on the grassy knoll about what the United States was like during the Kennedy years and how he energized young people and why his death was such a major event. We were interrupted by a crazed looking man trying to get a crowd to hear his opinion about what really happened with the assassination. We went into the museum and saw pictures and video clips as well as models on what happened on November 22, 1963… or so we thought. When we finished with the Sixth Floor Museum we walked over to the Conspiracy Museum. Here we saw the famous Zapruder film on the assassination. We heard various opinions on what really caused Kennedy to be killed. Tommy Bowden, a staff member of the Conspiracy Museum, took us back out to the grassy knoll and began telling and showing us many of the different ideas…some logical and some unbelievable.
Etgar 36 on the grassy knoll
And behind the famous picket fence
Confused with all the details, we made our way to Congregation Beth El – Binah that is a Reform Synagogue for the Gay and Lesbian community. Though not all members are homosexual, the vast majority of them are. They are a warm and very understanding people. We first had Friday night services together and it was a great experience to have the same service with the same words that we are all used to form home, but different tunes. After services we sat down to a great fried chicken dinner and had a chance to meet and talk with some of the members of the synagogue. We discussed the hardships and prejudices that face the homosexual community, both Jewish and non Jewish. We had watched the movie “Trembling Before God” on the bus ride into Dallas, which is about being Orthodox, and Gay and the troubles people face. We were able to discuss our thoughts from the movie as well. The overall message form the members of Beth El-Binah was, be who you are and be happy with who God made you. The day was very powerful and thought provoking. Though our group might differ on thoughts and opinions, we are getting very close.
Etgar 36 & members of Beth El Binah