We are parents and family members of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) Jews who are coming together to transform the Jewish community through peer support, public events, and advocating for institutional change. We come from all streams of the Jewish world, have children of all genders and sexual orientations, and are driven by personal journeys of struggle and celebration. See below for more information.
Looking for one-on-one peer support from one of our trained mentors?
This group is for all Arizona parent and family members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender individuals. The group allows members to garner support, share resources, and get connected.
A group for all parents,teens, family members and allies of LGBTQ Jews in Orange County. This group is a means of connecting with other teens,parents and family members.
This group is for all Colorado parent and family members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender individuals. The group allows members to garner support, share resources, and get connected.
We are a support and education group for parents and family members of LGBTQ individuals in the Chicagoland area. We have monthly support meetings at Response in Skokie, as well as a one-on-one mentoring program for people needing more individual guidance.
A group for all parents, family members and allies of LGBT Jews in Indianapolis. This group is a means of connecting with other parents and family members.
This group serves the Maryland/DC/Virginia metropolitan area for parents and families of LGBT individuals. We provide mentors for those in need as well as educational programing. If you are interested in getting involved or would like to speak to a mentor please contact email@example.com.
A group for all parents and family members of LGBT Jews in Baltimore. This group is a means of connecting with other parents and family members. We organize occasional events, and work closely with the DC chapter. This group is a joint project with JQ Baltimore.
Boston KP&FC provides resources and builds community for parents and family members of LGBT children. The group also acts as a voice for the full inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish life. Boston KP&FC meets once a month. Contact Chasiah@Keshetonline.org for more information or to get involved.
This group is for all St. Louis area parent and family members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender individuals. The group allows members to garner support, share resources, and get connected
We are an affinity group for parents raising LGBTQ Jewish teens. We honor the courage of our children, celebrate the diversity of Jewish life, and provide fellowship to parents seeking to raise their children with pride and dignity rooted in Jewish values and community. We meet every other month in a private home in northern New Jersey. We hope to begin offering opportunities for our teens to come together for social and recreational programs. All are welcome. Visit us at www.shaarcommunities.org
A group for parents and family members of LGBTQ Jews in Westchester County, NY. This group is a way to share resources, support, and conversation. Mosaic of Westchester organizes this group-mosaicofwestchester.org. For questions and/or more information, contact Bina Raskin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Social and community group for parents and family members of LGBTQ Jews.
A group of parents and family members of LGBTQ Jews in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia KP&FC is a joint project with Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia. For questions or more information, contact Phoenix Schneider at email@example.com.
We are so happy to have you join the Keshet Parent & Family Connection! You are part of a growing national movement of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and our friends transforming the Jewish community, and we’re excited and grateful to be doing this work with you.
Below is a guide that will help you build a local chapter of the Keshet Parent & Family Connection, for Jewish parents and family members with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer children. With your help, we can make it better for Jewish LGBTQ kids and their families.
You can also download a pdf version of the Toolkit along with templates.
If you have additional questions not answered in this guide, please give us a call any time at 617.524.9227 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Keshet Parent & Family Connection?
The Keshet Parent & Family Connection is a national mentoring and leadership program composed of parents and family members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Jews sharing our stories, supporting each other, and creating change in the Jewish community. Parent & Family Connection chapters come together to build community, share stories, host public events to inspire and educate, mentor and support each other, and advocate for change in their Jewish communities.
Who are members of the Connection?
The Connection’s members are parents and family members, spanning the gamut of Jewish identities and affiliations from secular to observant. Members have children and/or family members of various ages, at different places in their LGBTQ journey. Members are themselves at different places in their own process of coming to accept, understand, and celebrate their family members and their LGBTQ identities. We have come together to affirm the space in Judaism and Jewish community for us and for our children and family members.
Where is the Keshet Parent & Family Connection Located?
The Keshet Parent & Family Connection launched in five regions in the spring and summer of 2012:
Each region has volunteer leaders who organize the Parent & Family Connection cohorts in their area. This toolkit is created to facilitate the creation of volunteer- led chapters across the country. For the most up-to-date list of Connection Chapters, check the Keshet Connector feature on the Keshet website.
A Brief History
The program originated in Boston with a group of parents who are long-time Keshet members. They brought the idea to Keshet and worked together with Keshet staff for a year to develop the project. In fall of 2011, we launched the Connection in Boston. Since the program’s launch, we’ve been working with passionate parent leaders across the country to establish new grassroots chapters in communities across the country.
A Note of Gratitude to PFLAG
Keshet is deeply indebted to PFLAG for sharing their advice and resources. PFLAG was instrumental in showing the LGBTQ community that our parents and family members are our most valuable allies. While PFLAG actively welcomes members from all faiths, we started the Connection to meet a specific need for Jewish parents to meet and talk with other Jews.
The Keshet Connector is an online tool to allow parents and family members of LGBTQ Jews to find and easily create local grassroots chapters of the Keshet Parent & Family Connection.
Everything related to the Keshet Parent & Family Connection (KP&FC), lives at: keshetonline.org/supportfamilies.
Join an Existing Chapter or Create a New Chapter
Joining an Existing Chapter
If a KP&FC chapter exists near you, can click on its listing for more information about the group, including: number of members, upcoming events, and how to get more involved.
To get more involved, simply click the “SUBSCRIBE” link, and you will be added to a secure email list. Then you’re in! You will be emailed directions for communicating with the group. Send an email to the list to introduce yourself*!
*What if I want to be anonymous?
You can definitely participate anonymously! Keshet asks for some basic information about you, but you have complete control over who sees what of your personal identity. You get to select a display name (this can be your real name, initials, or a screen name like LoveMyGaySon36), and if you want an anonymous email address (ex: email@example.com), you can quickly create one for free. Go here to sign up for a free email address: gmail.com, yahoo.com, or hotmail.com.
Click the link that says: “Get Started!” and you will be prompted to create a new chapter of the KP&FC. You will be asked to provide some basic information about the group:
Finding other people
So you’ve created a group on keshetonline.org, but you’re the only person in it. How do you find other parents and family members of LGBTQ Jews? We’ve got a few ideas:
Your social network
Think about your friends and community; do you know anyone else who has an LGBTQ child or family member? If they aren’t Jewish, you can still ask them if they know other Jewish parents and family members of LGBTQ people. Word of mouth and personal referral are your most effective recruitment methods. Ask your friends if they know anyone else who has an LGBTQ child or family member, you might be surprised by who comes out of the woodwork once you start talking! You can invite your friends to join your group directly from your group’s page using the” invite a friend” tool.
Talk to local clergy and other Jewish professionals and leaders to let them know what you’re doing. Ask them to share the information with their communities, and refer anyone they know who is interested to you. You can download flyers and more information about the program from the Keshet website to post and distribute. (See the Resources section of this guide.) Think about your local Jewish institutions—probably all of them have parents involved! Talk to your local:
You can take out print ads in local Jewish papers, or post information in synagogue bulletins.
Exactly what your KP&FC Chapter decides to do is up to all of you, but we have a few ideas to get you started. Take a look at the “Taking Action” section for more information about all of these ideas.
When a child comes out, their parents and family members are inadvertently pushed into the closet. It can be incredibly isolating to be a parent or family member of an LGBTQ person, and connecting and creating community with others is important. The Keshet Parent & Family Connection can bring people together for just this purpose.
Share Your Stories
Telling our stories is a powerful way to combat isolation and build empathy and understanding. Take the time to share your stories with each other and your communities.
You can form a peer support group. We’ve provided resources for how to facilitate non-judgmental support groups for parents and family members who are struggling.
Take your stories and your lives public! You can host film screenings, discussions, or other community events.
Organizing and Education
Parents are powerful advocates for their children, and you can do a great deal to make your Jewish community more welcoming and inclusive to LGBTQ Jews.
Where to host?
Once you’ve found other parents of LGBTQ Jews you’ll want to get together, and you’ll need a space to gather. The two easiest places to gather will be in a private home or in a public community space.
Why meet at home?
For many parents, this may be the first time they are talking to other parents of LGBTQ people, and you’ll want to consider everyone’s comfort and putting people at ease. Meeting at home can feel safer and welcoming, and it’s much easier to create a gathering that feels haimish and familiar. It also ensures greater anonymity, than meeting in a Jewish community center or synagogue space. If you’d like to host in your own home, here are a few things to consider:
Why meet in a public space?
A public space may be more readily accessible to people who rely on public transportation or who use a wheelchair, as well as maintaining the privacy of the organizer. In addition, meeting at an institution or organization can provide an extra benefit, especially if the host organization has not hosted LGBTQ events. It provides an important first step for the host organization to become a more welcoming place. If you decide to meet in a public space, a few things to consider:
What to do with your time?
Before you decide on agenda, consider the purpose of this meeting. If this is the first time this group is convening, or if there are many people who don’t know each other, it will be important to take time for relationship-building, to allow people to build trust and to get to know each other. Your relationships with each other will be an integral part of your success, and will help ensure that group members are engaged, responsible, and committed to whatever projects you take on. And of course, it’s more fun to work on a project when you know and enjoy the people you are working with!
How will you invite people to attend your group? Are you forming an ongoing support group, a committee, or a casual social group? All of these questions may impact your decisions when it comes to advertising and recruitment. If you’ve connected with others using the Keshet Connector, do you want to advertise the group more publicly? You may want to consider starting with a smaller group and establishing goals and member roles before advertising broadly.
Advertising and Promotion
If you decide to advertise publicly, the local Jewish institutions and LGBT resource center (if one exists in your city), are excellent places to start. Make sure to advertise at the JCC, your local Jewish Family & Children’s Services (or equivalent), and the local chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians & Gays).
Confidentiality is a fundamental cornerstone of the Keshet Parent & Family Connection. Coming out, for LGBTQ people or their family members, has real risks and repercussions, and building trust is imperative to supporting each other. Members of your group may be in the same or overlapping communities, and may know people in common. As a group you should discuss your personal confidentiality expectations. Is everyone in the group out as a parent or family member of an LGBTQ person? If not, respect their privacy.
Some Tips for Respecting Confidentiality
Settle-in and Welcome by Organizer (15 minutes)
Time to allow people to grab refreshments, and for the organizer/facilitator to welcome everyone to the space. You should introduce Keshet and share the basic goals of the group. This is a good time to discuss confidentiality.
Introductions (15—40 minutes, depending on size of group)
Allow everyone a few minutes to introduce themselves; share why they’ve come (a little snippet of their story); anything specific they are hoping to get out of today. For some groups, this may take up the bulk of your time. That’s okay! For some parents, this may be the first time they’ve been able to tell their story publicly, and the space to do so is critically important.
Discussion (30 minutes)
Pose a question or two (see below) to the group for a loosely facilitated discussion.
Closing & Next Steps (10 minutes)
As a closing activity ask everyone to share one word about how they are feeling, and schedule the next meeting.
Sample questions for stimulating discussion
Creating a formal structure for your group can be very beneficial to creating a sustainable group. Structure can enable you to:
You can delineate ongoing roles or positions for members and you can also designate roles for individual meetings and events. Below we’ve suggested roles that might work for your group, but remember that your chapter might look different, and that’s okay!
These people (usually a pair), hold the big picture, and are responsible for thinking about the leadership development of other members. It is not on the organizers to do everything, rather it is the organizers’ responsibility to think about which members have interests and skills that can aid the group’s development, and encourage people to take on individual tasks and roles. These people should be comfortable being a public face of the Keshet Parent & Family Connection. The organizers are responsible for communicating with Keshet periodically about the group’s membership and activities, and they may also be directly in touch with Keshet staff for support.
This person is responsible for outreach, recruitment, and meeting with new potential members. This person should be thinking with the organizer about possible roles and positions for new members, and should also be comfortable being a public face of the Keshet Parent & Family Connection. They may also be responsible for managing the membership list.
This person is responsible for taking minutes (just key decisions are usually sufficient), during meetings, and then distributing those minutes after meetings in a timely manner. They may also take on writing and communications tasks for specific events, or for delegating those responsibilities.
This person is responsible for outreach and liaising with local Jewish and LGBTQ organizations. This may include outreach for specific events, soliciting co-sponsorship for events, asking clergy to take action for LGBTQ equality and inclusion, and promoting your KP&FC chapter.
A meeting or event host provides the space, and you may decide that they also provide refreshments. This person should share the meeting or event location far in advance, and communicate any accessibility or kashrut information about their space. (For example: “My address is 1234 Spruce Street, Springfield, and it is transit accessible. There is ample free parking. We’ll be meeting on the first floor, but there is one step into the house. I have a cat and a kosher kitchen.”)
This person is responsible for drafting the agenda (in collaboration with the organizer, generally), and for keeping the discussion moving forward. The facilitator should be attentive to the social dynamics in the group, making sure to create space for people who aren’t participating by asking direct questions and inviting them into the conversation (For example: “Judy, do you have any thoughts on whether this event should happen at the Conservative synagogue or the JCC?”). It is also incumbent on the facilitator to decide what to do if a discussion is stretching beyond the allotted time: continue, and table later agenda topics; cut off discussion and see if you can reach a quick decision; end the discussion for now and continue it at the next meeting.
This can be the facilitator, but it’s often helpful to have another person keeping time. This person should be clearly identified at the beginning of the meeting, so everyone knows their role. Identifying a time keeper other than the facilitator is useful for a few reasons: one, it allows the facilitator to focus on the discussion and group dynamics more closely; and two, it creates a space for the timekeeper to communicate publicly about the need to move on, which keeps everyone accountable to the agenda, rather than just the facilitator. (It can be awkward for a facilitator to cut off an impassioned conversation, but if the timekeeper announces that the group is running over time, people can self-moderate.)
This person can scribe any notes visually for the whole group (on large sheets of chart paper, for example), or they may be responsible for taking notes. This can be the same person as the secretary, or someone new each meeting.
This person isn’t responsible for doing all of the outreach, but they are responsible for following up with group members to hold them accountable to their outreach commitments, and determine if they need additional resources. (For example: A sample letter to send to synagogues, more flyers for an event, information about the physical venue.)
Set-up & Clean-up
This person is responsible for ensuring there is a plan for set-up and clean-up, including recruiting others to help. (This is a great role for new group members, or people who support the group but aren’t themselves parents or family members of LGBTQ Jews.) If you are using a borrowed or rented space from a local institution, your relationship with the institution could be damaged if you leave it a mess. They should work closely with the logistics coordinator to make sure all of the necessary materials and equipment are available.
This person is responsible for coordinating the logistics of the event, including connecting with the host and the set-up/clean-up teams. They should be able to think through each stage of the event and the necessary materials and equipment.
These positions and roles are just a place to start! If your group needs different positions, or events call for different roles, go for it! If you find a new group structure that works really well, tell us about it!
As mentioned above, what your KP&FC Chapter does is up to you, but we’ve elaborated here on some ideas to get you started.
Group support and community building
People seek out groups and organizations in order to find other people with similar experiences and build relationships, access support, and feel less isolated.
These can be peer facilitated, or you can reach out to your local JFCS or JCC to see if they have a staff person who might be available to facilitate. For many people, they simply need to talk through their challenges with supportive listeners, rather than needing professional support. If someone is in need of more intensive individual or family therapy, or you believe someone may pose a threat to themselves or others, you can refer them to your local LGBT center or JFCS for counseling resources. PFLAG has excellent resources on how to facilitate a peer-led support circle. (See page 20 of this PFLAG Chapter Manual.
Book & film discussion groups
There are a plethora of excellent books and films about the lives of LGBTQ people and families, and a growing body of work about LGBTQ Jews and our families. Many straight parents feel alienated, unsure, and fearful when their children come out. Those fears may be grounded in uncertainty about what their child’s future will look like, and can be assuaged by seeing diverse representations of LGBTQ people thriving and living full lives. Watching films and reading books by and about LGBTQ people can offer those representations, as well as being a source of education and stimuli for discussions. See the Resources section of this guide for a list of Jewish LGBTQ books and films.
The Keshet Parent & Family Connection has trained peer-mentors in five sites across the country. Though we are not currently offering Mentor Training beyond those five sites, the mentors are available to provide peer mentorship to parents, family members, and LGBTQ Jews across the country. If you or someone in your community is looking for mentorship, they can be matched with a mentor by filling out this form. See the KPF&C Mentor Guide, for some basic guidelines and best practices for offering 1–1 support to another parent or family member.
Sharing the stories of our lives and our families can be profoundly transformative, for the storyteller and for the listener. Stories also often serve as powerful catalysts of change and action, and can move an individual (like a rabbi), or an institution to take decisive movement toward greater inclusion of LGBTQ Jews. As parents and family members of LGBTQ Jews, you have a story to tell. Yours may be a story marked by years of struggle, or it may be a story of immediate acceptance and celebration of your LGBTQ child or family member. Some of these stories may feel momentous and remarkable, and some may seem quotidian, but all of them are important, because they represent the reality of LGBTQ people and their families’ lives. Keshet has resources for crafting a good story—and it is a craft! You can tell your stories in one-on-one conversations (with other parents and family members, with rabbis, with your family), and in public forums. Your stories are fodder for powerful divrei Torah marking Pride, National Coming Out Day, Trans Day of Remembrance, or any day of the year.
Public events are an excellent way to accomplish multiple goals at once.
Some event ideas
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If you are planning an event, please share it with Keshet! You can submit events to our website here, and we will include them in our listings of LGBTQ Jewish events happening around the country. We want to help promote your hard work, and we want to see how our movement is growing! We’ve provided sign-in sheets in the Resources section. After an event, please let us know who came to your event by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to scan and send a copy of your sign-in sheet to us.
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There is no fiercer advocate for the well-being of a child than their parent, and you are in a powerful position to advocate for change in your community.
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you can ask your Jewish institution.
If you’re not sure where to start, think about what matters most to you! A maxim of community organizing is that the most winnable issues are those that are deeply and broadly felt.
So, start by asking yourself a few questions:
Then start asking other allies, other parents and family members of LGBTQ Jews. When you start to hear a pattern, when the thing that keeps you up at night is the same as others in your community, you’re hitting on an issue that is broadly and deeply felt. Start there.
You can do a great deal with volunteer time and energy, but eventually you might need to spend some money. So, where does that come from?
KP&FC Micro Grants
Keshet has created a Micro Grants fund for KP&FC chapters. This fund is designed to help offset the cost of programming for individual chapters, but it may not cover everything. Grants range from about $50–300 dollars per award. You can fill out an easy application here.
This fund depends on individual donations! If you want to support your chapter and other chapters across the country, please consider donating. Your contribution strengthens the national movement we are building, and extends your impact far beyond your local chapter. You can make a tax-deductible donation to Keshet here. Please indicate this donation is directed to the KP&FC Micro Grants Fund.
Consider asking local Jewish institutions to co-sponsor events with you. Co-sponsorship can include an in-kind donation (advertising, a physical event space, etc.), and/or a monetary donation. Many organizations will be able to put $50–100 toward the event, and will be thrilled to see their name listed on promotional materials.
Keshet hosts community events in the cities where we have offices: Boston, Denver, and the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find up- to-date listings of all of our events at keshetonline.org/events.
Institutional Change & Education
At the heart of Keshet’s mission is our work to transform Jewish institutions, and you can be a part of that! In addition to the organizing and education work you can do as a KP&FC Chapter, you can also urge your synagogue, day school, or other Jewish institution to work with Keshet. More information about our training and education work is available at: keshetonline.org/training-and-consultation.
LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton
If your child is a teenager, or if you know LGBTQ and ally teenagers, urge them to attend Keshet’s LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton. If you don’t have a teenager yourself, and don’t know teenagers, you can still help support the Shabbaton by:
More information about the Shabbaton and Keshet’s work with teens is available at keshetonline.org/guide/you/youth.
Join the Keshet Parents Circle
The Keshet Parents Circle is a donor circle of parents of LGBTQ Jews who are committed to supporting Keshet’s work to ensure that the Jewish community is safe, inclusive, and celebratory of LGBTQ Jews. You can find out more, and make a gift at keshetonline.org/about/supportkeshet.
This is not a comprehensive list of resources, but it is a place to start. Keshet has a large, searchable resource library on our website, available here: keshetonline.org/resources.
All titles can be purchased on amazon.com.
Other questions? Please contact
These documents will help you promote your KP&FC chapter events, and will enable you to run meetings smoothly.