8. And Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him. 9. And Adonai said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I don’t know; Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10. And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.11. And now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened her mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand…”
ח וַיֹּאמֶר קַיִן אֶל־הֶבֶל אָחִיו וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתָם בַּשָּׂדֶה וַיָּקָםח וַיֹּאמֶר קַיִן אֶל־הֶבֶל אָחִיו וַיְהִי בִּהְיוֹתָם בַּשָּׂדֶה וַיָּקָם קַיִן אֶל־הֶבֶל אָחִיו וַיַּהַרְגֵהוּ: ט וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָֹה אֶל־קַיִן אֵי הֶבֶל אָחִיךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא יָדַעְתִּי הֲשֹׁמֵר אָחִי אָנֹכִי: י וַיֹּאמֶר מֶה עָשִֹיתָ קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ צֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן־הָאֲדָמָה: יא וְעַתָּה אָרוּר אָתָּה מִן־הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר פָּצְתָה אֶת־פִּיהָ לָקַחַת אֶת־דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ מִיָּדֶךָ:
One of the most poignant moments in our Torah comes at the beginning of chapter 4 in Bereshit. Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother Abel. God demands, “Where is Abel your brother?” And Cain answers with the chilling words, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
We learn the right answer to Cain’s cruelly dismissive reply from how God punishes him. God decrees that Cain will be a fugitive and a wanderer for the rest of his life, never having a permanent home.
As a tribal people we know how horrible this punishment is. And it teaches us that the answer to the question, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ is a resounding ‘Yes!’
At the JQ Warmline we say, “We are our siblings’ keepers. We are taking care of each other.”
There are too many LGBTQ Jews who have no one to take care of them. Their families don’t understand them because they’re Queer; their queer friends don’t understand why Judaism is so important to them when its own texts have been consistently used against them.
And worst of all there are too many LGBTQ Jews who don’t know how to accept all parts of themselves.
The Warmline provides our siblings the resources and social service referrals that will help them find their place in the Jewish and Queer communities. It also gives them the chance to be part of the entire JQ International community, to participate in our Shabbat dinners, our holiday parties and seders, our social gatherings, like Single de Mayo. What starts as a call for help from an LGBTQ Jew can end with that person’s involvement in our larger LGBTQ Jewish community.
It may be that LGBTQ Jews are marginalized in the wider world, but they don’t have to be marginalized in our LGBTQ and Jewish communities. It is because JQ International and its Warmline exist that we can clearly hear the voices of our siblings crying to us from wherever they are.