By Paul Lungen
Makom is a place in downtown Toronto that takes its mandate of inclusivity and diversity very seriously.
Originally conceived in 2009 as a venue for Jews of all persuasions and levels of observance to gather in a spiritual community while enjoying Jewish cultural and educational pursuits, it offers Erev Shabbat services in an Orthodox setting once every two weeks, with separate seating for men and women. Men and women participate fully in prayers, with dual minyanim (prayer quorums) consisting of 10 men and 10 women.
As diverse as it is, fusing Jewish tradition with progressive values, Makom hasn’t satisfied everyone. Recently, a gender non-conforming person, who identifies as neither male nor female, raised concerns over seating arrangements.
“Approximately a year and a half ago, they (the pronoun preferred by the individual) expressed their discomfort with only men’s and women’s seating options at Makom’s services, so they and I had conversations to figure out how best to welcome this person and other gender non-binary folks to be part of Makom’s services,” said Rabbi Aaron Levy, founder of Makom and its executive director.