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Archive for : Keshet

It’s Pride Month! How Are YOU Celebrating?

June is here, which means Pride Month – 30 days dedicated to commemorating and celebrating the advancement of LGBTQ rights in America and across the globe – is here too!

There are so many exciting, educational, and just plain fun events across the country celebrating Pride Month. In honor of the month, we thought we’d highlight a couple of events that merge the LGBTQ and Jewish communities. Check out this small sampling below, and find even more events over at Keshet.

Hebro is a social-startup for gay Jews living in the city. Their events are always cutting edge and fun – the upcoming Hebro Pride happy hour on June 22 will be no exception. Meanwhile, on June 11, the folks over at CBST are hosting a kid and family-friendly singalong in honor of Pride Month.

Washington DC
On June 10, as part of the national Pride Shabbat movement, the historic Sixth & I Synagogue and Bet Mishpacha are joining forces for an inclusive Shabbat evening service.

Is text study your thing? On June 8, join Keshet for a special Pride text study that will examine Jewish texts that relate to the LGBTQ community.

San Francisco
On June 16, Keshet is hosting a Jewish Pride happy hour and schmooze fest as Pride Week festivities kick off across the city.

What could be better than Shabbat on the beach? On June 24, Congregation Or Chadash will host a special Pride Shabbat BBQ and beach service.

Intrigued by that rainbow challah? You can make it at home! Here’s the recipe and a helpful video from The Nosher.

Coming Up: Transgender Day of Remembrance

On November 20th, the Jewish community will join in in commemorating the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Founded in 1998, TDOR is an internationally-recognized day of action that memorializes trans people who died at the hands of transphobia and discrimination during the previous year. It is observed in more than 20 countries across the globe. Within the Jewish world, Keshet is leading the charge in ensuring rights, respect, and full inclusion for transgendered Jews in their communities. And they have put together a treasure trove of resources, stories, and events in honor of TDOR.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance is a heavy day – filled with the sorrow that comes from hate-fueled violence. In the words of Rabbi Becky Siverstein, the country’s first openly transgender rabbi, “Each time my community gathers for a prayer service, we ask someone in the congregation to say the Mourner’s Kaddish for those who have no one to say Kaddish for them. This is a powerful reminder that in the Jewish tradition mourning is a communal obligation.”

Join Keshet on November 20th and make a stand to advance transgender inclusion within the Jewish community. Find out how to get involved on their website.

Pride Interview: Shanna Katz and Keshet

During Pride Month, Repair the World is featuring interviews with the people and organizations who are on the forefront of the LGBTQ movement. This week: Colorado native (and current Denver resident), Shanna Katz, talks about her volunteer work with Keshet – an organization “working for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews in Jewish life” – and the important role Keshet has played in her own journey.

How did you get involved with Keshet?
When I moved back to Colorado from Arizona in early 2011, I felt very engaged in the queer community, but very disconnected from the Jewish community. Several months later, I started getting emails from friends saying “I saw this poster for a queer Hanukkah party that you might like.” I checked it out and thought it looked fun, plus it was being held at my favorite vegetarian restaurant. I hesitated because my partner is a transman and not Jewish, so I wasn’t sure he’d be welcome. But it turned out that there were people there from all walks of life and Judaism. It immediately felt like a safe space to be my kind of Jewish and talk about issues relevant to the LGBT and Jewish communities. For the last year and a half since then, I’ve gotten much more involved.

In what ways have you gotten involved?
I’m on Keshet’s Young Adult Planning Team. There’s this fear across the Jewish community that we’re losing people in our 20s-30s, so the original idea of the team was to make sure that the events we were planning felt relevant and meaningful to the younger adult community. We got a grant through a local foundation that paid for a year-long salon series, so we planned fun and educational events like a talk on transgender issues within Judaism. I taught a class on sexuality and Judaism, and we hosted a spoken word performance by Harvey Katz’s Athens Boys Choir. We held the salon series in coffee shops, bars, people’s homes – places that felt distinctly different from the traditional Shabbat service space.

How did you spread the word about the series?
We put flyers out at local synagogues and bars, and got an add in the local queer newspaper. We felt like we had the Jewish spaces pretty well covered, and more wanted to find queer Jewish people who did not typically come to Jewish events. The salon series did pretty well – my class, for example, had about 20-25 people.

Are you involved in other Keshet programs?
Through Keshet I’ve volunteered for our local meals on wheels program, and we have an upcoming event with Ekar, a local urban farm that provides food for Jewish family services. Each year, we march together with other Jewish groups in the Pride Parade, and recently my partner and I hosted a Keshet Shabbat. We alternate between religious and non-religious locations and usually have a lay-led service followed by a potluck. Our Queer Seder, which we hold during Passover is also one of the largest in the country. Last year we had about 150 people attend.

What role does Keshet play in your own life?
Growing up, I had a bat mitzvah and was president of Hillel during college, but then I lost my connection with the Jewish community. I had no ideas Jews had something to say about issues I cared about. So for me, Keshet been an important pathway back into Judaism, and I think it has the potential to do the same for many other people.

Find out more about Keshet’s work at their website.