PHOTO ESSAY BY DONNA ACETO | In a show of extraordinary exuberance, celebration, and reverence, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah marched from its longtime, crowded home at Westbeth in the West Village to its stunning new sanctuary and community space in the Cass Gilbert Building on West 30th Street (above).
The April 3 event drew CBST members, community leaders, and elected officials to a colorful display of the congregation’s traditions, including its five Torahs, which prominent participants took turns carrying. At the end of the festivities — which took the crowd from Westbeth to the congregation’s borrowed worship space at Holy Apostles Episcopal Church on Ninth Avenue, where they were greeted by that faith community’s leaders — Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum led the group into CBST’s new sanctuary, designed by architect Stephen Cassell, where a Muslim woman and a Christian man offered opening prayers.
Above, Mayor Bill de Blasio takes his turn carrying a Torah, flanked by West Side Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, marriage equality champions Edie Windsor and Evan Wolfson, and Rabbi Kleinbaum. Senator Chuck Schumer also got his turn carrying the Torah (below, with City Councilmember Corey Johnson, actress Cynthia Nixon, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, and her partner, Rabbi Kleinbaum), as did Nadler (below that).
Among the community leaders on hand were (below) comedian Kate Clinton and her partner Urvashi Vaid, who for decades has held top posts in nationwide LGBT advocacy.