Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Formative Experience

In 1993, as a freshman in high school, I was very fortunate to attend a convention of the Religious Action Committee in Washington, DC. I had gone as part of a teenage delegation from my synagogue, mostly to earn the religious school credits I needed in what I thought would be the easiest and most fun way. I had never been to DC before, and it was an amazing trip, seeing lots of the local sites while attending numerous lectures.

Senator Ted Kennedy gave one of those talks, as did then Vice President Al Gore, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and many other luminaries of the time. There were discussions of the relationship between the African American and Jewish communities, health care reform, and, in acknowledgment of a rally going on concurrently, gay rights. I have to admit - I was a kid. I knew little to nothing about all of these issues, and this trip was a very formative experience. I will never forget how seeing the rainbow flags and the people carrying them made me feel, and I know that those moments shaped the person I have become.

I am very sad to hear of the death of Senator Kennedy, but it gave me the occasion to think not only of the tremendous good he has done, but also of the amazing experience I got to have (and thanks Mom and Dad for letting me go - twice). Back then, I had no idea that I'd end up in Boston myself, and to have the honor of voting for him. RIP Senator Kennedy, you will be missed.

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