a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Resources for LGBTQ Jews

Posted on: November 23, 2010

It’s almost been a month since I gave my talk at Be’chol Lashon.  We’re scheduled to meet next week, the first day of Hanukkah, a day that I’m booked three ways in the evening.  It’s my last day of my conversion class for this trimester.  It’s my “office” party, and it’s the Be’Chol Lashon Hanukkah party/meeting.  I have decided to attend my last conversion class-as Be’chol Lashon is for Jews and I’m still a Jew-in-Training.  They’ll always be there but for some of the students of the conversion class, they’re off to get converted! 

I found Be’Chol Lashon, a resource not only for Jews of Color but a group advocating for diversity in the Jewish community as a whole to try to find other Jews of Color.  I also found the Jewish Multiracial Network and a forum for Jews of Color on the Jews by Choice website.  It was important for me to find other Jews of Color as well as Jews by Choice to get to “know” if only via internet.  I reached out to a black lesbian Jew named Sandra who suggested a few LGBTQ Jewish sites as well.  So now I have them set to memory and saved on my favorites tab and I’m wondering what I can do.  My conversion class rabbi is always reminding us that Judaism is a religion of doing rather a religion of talking.  That phrase actions speak louder than words comes to mind.  I’m learning but I’m wondering what I can do more.

On my other and neglected blog a new reader commented on my homage to the It Gets Better Project.  The reader expressed thanks that I highlighted some of my favorite videos but wondered what we, society, were doing about it.  It made me a bit defensive at first and then I realized that as a Jew I have an obligation to repair the world, Tikkun Olam, in any way that I can.  I read and I’m learning, I’m even doing extra credit!  I have a feeling that when I get paired up with a rabbi at the synagogue, the rabbi I will talk to on a weekly basis (I want weekly not monthly!) will give me suggestions of books to read and I’ll have read them already.  I’m doing all of this learning and my desire to learn, understand, and know more is almost all-consuming but I’m not really doing anything Jewish.

that kippah is on my hanukkah list

I attend synagogue on Friday, I light candles, I kiss my hands to my mezuzah and I wear 2 Hamsas around my neck.  I’m planning my Hanukkah party food, I almost bought another menorah today and I make a mean matzo ball soup.  I feel Jewish but I’m not doing Jewish things.  We’re several months into 5771 and while my learning seems to be expanding with every book I read and every website I visit I wonder what I can do to help the community as a whole.  And when I think of how I can help the Jewish community I’m drawn, naturally, to the niche communities.  I’m drawn to the Jews of Color, I’m drawn to LGBTQ Jews because it is in those communities that I “fit”.  I wrote a blog once about an article in Reform Judaism magazine where two gay Jews were weighing the pros and cons of LGBTQ Jews being included, outright, in the shul.  One argued that inclusion should be natural and wedding announcements for two Jewish congregation members who are gay should go right next to straight announcements.  He argued that it should be a part of the congregation as a whole.  The other debated that there needed to be clear and separate LGBTQ spaces, there should be a LGBTQ Hanukkah party, for instance.  I’m paraphrasing the article completely but I can see both sides.

As a Jew by Choice, a Jew of Color, a Lesbian Jew I can understand the need to be recognized for who you are and also the need to just be seen as a Jew, minus the other labels.  I don’t have that privilege, if you will.  Unless I seek out a black shul I’ll always be the black girl in shul.  I have the option, though, to seek out the LGBTQ shul in NYC and fully intend to in the next few months.  I’m still shul shopping, quite honestly.  In terms of serving my Jewish community I want to be of assistance to people who I feel most connected to.  On the other hand, I can’t think of the Jewish community in small compartmentalized boxes, even though some prefer to do so.

There are two great LGBTQ Jewish online resources I’ve been scoping out lately.  Keshet and Nehirim.  I’m excited to learn more about them and hope to be apart of the work that they do.

8 Responses to "Resources for LGBTQ Jews"

Hi Erika,

I’ve been following your blog recently and love your writing and your honesty.

Since you mentioned Keshet, here’s a personal invite to get more involved! Feel free to shoot me an email/give a call anytime.

(Our website is being overhauled right now, so if you want to know what’s going on, sign up for our newsletter (see http://www.keshetoneline.org home page) and FB page: KeshetGLBTJews!)

Best,
Bonnie Rosenbaum
Deputy Director, Keshet

Hi Bonnie! Thanks so much for the positive words! I’ve been browsing your site since I found it a few days ago! Is there a chapter or group in NYC?

It sounds to me like you ARE doing Jewish things.

I agree, I totally feel Jewish 99% of the time ;)

I. Want. That. Kippah!

Right? I do, too!!!

Hi Erica,

Keshet is a national organization and we host trainings and workshops in cities across the country, but we only have GLBT Jewish community events in Boston and Denver (soon SF!). Do you know about http://www.gaygevalt.com/? They list GLBT Jewish events across the country.

Let me know if you are looking for something specific in NYC and I will try to help!

Bonnie

Thanks for the resource! I’d love to be kept in the loop about Boston events-it’s sort of kind of close. Definitely closer than Denver!

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