Drag queens, many from charitable and/or HIV/AIDS education organizations, pose for group shots before the start of the parade at the annual N.C. Gay Pride march and rally. Mark Schultz mschultz@newsobserver.com
Drag queens, many from charitable and/or HIV/AIDS education organizations, pose for group shots before the start of the parade at the annual N.C. Gay Pride march and rally. Mark Schultz mschultz@newsobserver.com

Durham County

NC Pride says it will solve LGBT festival conflict with Jewish holiday

By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan

dvaughan@heraldsun.com

July 06, 2017 02:01 PM

UPDATED July 06, 2017 06:15 PM

DURHAM

Organizers of the NC Pride festival and parade in Durham say they will solve the conflict over this year’s event being scheduled the same day as Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

“We’re going to solve that no matter what it takes,” said John Short of NC Pride. The Pride committee, who are volunteers, will meet this weekend to come up with a solution. “Exactly how we’ll solve that, we don’t know,” he said.

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Scenes from the 32nd NC Pride Festival and Parade

File video from the 32nd NC Pride Festival and Parade on Duke University's East Campus Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016.

Harry Lynch The News and Observer

The announcement of Sept. 30 as the date for this year’s NC Pride disappointed and angered some community members. The annual event brings thousands of people to Duke’s East Campus each fall.

At first, Pride apologized for the date but did not change the schedule, asking instead for forgiveness and promising to do better. On Thursday, Short said the committee was trying to rework the event and hoped to make an announcement next week.

“We’re trying to put together a complete solving of things,” he said. He did not have specific date or event information yet, but said “all the Jewish community will be able to attend.”

Short said the committee has Jewish members, but because organizers didn’t have previous conflicts with the holidays, they let it slip their minds.

Going forward, that will change.

“We’ll develop a solution that will be able to be carried over in the future,” Short said.

Before Pride said they’d come up with a solution, Jill Madsen, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Durham-Chapel Hill, said they were disappointed.

“We’ve had a large group present the last couple of years, both a booth and a float in the parade,” Madsen said Monday. “Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. You fast for 24 hours. You’re in service for most of the day. ... It is not a day you’d be at a parade and on a float,” she said.

Rabbi Larry Bach of Judea Reform Congregation in Durham posted an open letter on his blog Monday in response to the initial date conflict, writing, in part, that he was “hoping against hope for a miracle.”

“Failing that, I hope that you’ll make a note to avoid September 30, 2028 (Yom Kippur), and September 30, 2030 (Rosh Hashanah), so that we can all stand together, in unity and with pride,” Bach said.

Short said Thursday that NC Pride will be different this year.

“We just feel like it’s the right thing to do. Pride has been a very happy event, a very loving event always, and that’s the way we want to keep it,” Short said. “All of our Jewish friends will be able to participate.”

Durham resident Galia Goodman is skeptical until she learns what the schedule resolution will be.

She said the parade and festival would need to be moved to Sunday instead, or a different weekend.

“That will be interesting to see what they will come up with,” said Goodman, who has been involved in local pride events since the 1980s.

“They cannot do it anytime from sundown Friday to an hour after sundown Saturday and make anyone Jewish happy,” she said.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan