It’s upsetting to me when people would be non-welcoming to any community. . . .If they’re disabled or if they’re gay or whatever the issue is, I don’t think we have the right ever, ever to turn somebody away or make them not feel welcome.
We couldn’t agree more with the above comment made by Evie Weinstein, the executive director of the Bureau of Jewish Education in Buffalo, N.Y. Weinstein, along with 35 other Jewish educators in Atlanta, attended the inaugural Hineini Education Project National Training Institute. The institute, which is a program of Keshet, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) education and advocacy organization, provided training and education to Jewish organizations in order to create internal change within the organization and impact current practices used to welcome Jews who identify as GLBT. In a recent article in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Andrea Jacobs, Keshet’s director of education, explained:
“A commitment to long-term sustainable change is not about bringing in an outside organization,” Jacobs said, but “building the leadership and the knowledge base within a community so that they can take ownership of it and integrate it and incorporate it into their existing practices.”
JTA Reporter Rachel Pomerance described the gathering as an opportunity for networking and sharing program ideas with Jewish educators committed to creating organizations that are welcoming to the GLBT population. Jacobs said the Atlanta institute went so well, three more workshops have been planned for the coming year.
Through our Big Tent Judaism initiative, we are working to accomplish similar goals of change and inclusion. We congratulate Keshet on their success and encourage all Jewish organizations to join JOI and Keshet in opening their doors and welcoming all those who wish to learn about and engage with the Jewish community!