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Creating Change Comes from Within

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!



3 Comments

  1. I suppose I could simply quote Leviticus, but since that won’t help here, I should point out that you won’t get too much demographic growth out of gay and lesbians. One of the reasons Christianity grew, and Judaism survived in the Roman Empire was that both Christianity and Judaism were pro-natalist (anti-gay, anti-infanticide, pro-procreation) in their scriptures and teachings, whereas the othere religions and cults weren’t.

    Ultra-Orthdodox Judaism is growing faster than any other branch of Judaism because of its pro-natalist actions. I doubt there are any gay organisations in Kiryas Yoel or New Square NY. But the median age in Kiryas Yoel is 15.

    Comment by Dave — June 1, 2008 @ 8:42 am

  2. Why does Dave, the self-righteous orthodox, bother to comment here? I doubt there are many readers inclined either to believe in the tenets of orthodox Judaism or to observe the minutiae of halacha.

    As for Kiryas Yoel, the NYT cited in wikipedia reports:

    “Because of the sheer size of the families (the average household here has six people, but it is not uncommon for couples to have 8 or 10 children), and because a vast majority of households subsist on only one salary, 62 percent of the local families live below poverty level and rely heavily on public assistance…”

    I’ll take a pass on that style of pro-natalism.

    Comment by e — June 1, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

  3. 1/ I’m not Orthodox.

    2/ I agree that the readers here aren’t interested in Halacha (or the ‘minutae’ of Halacha as stated). That’s why I specifically stated that I wouldn’t mention Leviticus.

    3/ That is why I focused my arguments on natalism, which is not solely a traditional Jewish value, and is demographics-oriented. Anyone form the most secular to the most religious can deal with it.

    Natalism is one reason why certain groups grow and certain groups disappear. Its why the ultra-Orthdox are growing and why the other two main branches aren’t (in fact the Conservatives are shrinking rapidly)

    Poor or not the ultra-Orthodox will be around tomorrow. Those groups that practice anti-natalistic activities like being gay-inclusive, will they?

    As my favorite pundit says: ‘The future belongs to those who show up for it’.

    Comment by Dave — June 1, 2008 @ 7:33 pm

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