As LGBTQ & Ally Jewish youth of color, we deserve to feel affirmed and celebrated in all of our identities, to see our identities reflected fully in leadership and our peers, and to have access to sacred spaces in which we can connect with each other. Those spaces are exactly what we are trying to create here at Keshet, and we’d love for you to be a part of it!
We can’t wait to get to know you as we begin this journey together. Please fill out this form to the best of your ability. Your answers won’t be judged–we just want to learn a little bit more about you!
1. What do we mean by LGBTQ and Ally Jewish Youth of Color?
“LGBTQ and Ally” is a phrase that welcomes youth who identify as LGBTQ or as allies to the LGBTQ community. Allyship can take on many forms, but the overall concept is that you actively advocate for the full inclusion and affirmation of LGBTQ folks in all spaces.
Jews of Color (JoC) are Jews who self-identify as People of Color. People of Color includes folks with at least one racial identity that does not fall under the United States’ definition of “white.” Our identities can include: Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Middle Eastern/North African, Pacific Islander, and mixed-race or mixed heritage folks.
Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews, often excluded or less represented in Jewish spaces with dominant White Ashkenazi culture, are also welcome and affirmed in this space.
2. Why is an affinity space like this important?
Frequently in Jewish spaces, we are the only ones with our particular identities – the only Person of Color; the only Jew with traditions and cultural foods different from Ashkenazi ones; the only Jew by Choice, etc. Due to this, we can experience exclusion of our identities by white Ashkenazi folks. Folks may assume we are not Jewish or ask us questions that invalidate our Jewishness like “How are you Jewish?” and “When did you convert?”. Multicultural Jews can feel like other parts of our identities are not valued in Jewish spaces, and that we have to “choose” in those spaces to identify only or primarily as Jewish.
Therefore, it is important to have a space that’s “by us, for us” – a space in which we can build community with others who share our experiences in an inclusive and empowering way.
SPECIAL THANKS to our friends at JYCA for their support in our adaptation of their FAQ language.
Ari L. Monts (they/them/theirs) is an independent scholar, artist, and queer liturgist based in Sunnyside, NY. Their work looks at participatory performance rituals role in community formation. They’ve had their writing featured on Autostraddle and are a 2021 ALEPH Kesher Fellow. Their Jewish practice is centered around exploring the joy of small, intergenerational gatherings, playful rigor with liturgy, and lots of laughter. Currently, Ari works as the Communications and Programs Coordinator for Lab/Shul.
Kohenet Keshira HaLev Fife (she/her/hers and they/them/theirs) is a Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess) and a bi-racial, queer Jewish person who delights in serving as davennatrix (shlichat tzibbur), lifespiral ceremony/ritual creatrix, teacher, facilitator, liturgist, and songstress. She serves as Oreget Kehilah (Executive Director) of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, Founding Kohenet of Kesher Pittsburgh, and Program Director of the ALEPH Kesher Fellowship. She also enjoys working with Keshet and Beloved Builders and serving on the board of Kavod v’Nichum. After many years of traveling and living in Australia, she and her beloved once again make their home on Osage and Haudenosaunee land, also called Pittsburgh, PA. www.keshirahalev.com
I don’t really have an image of what I could be like when I’m older because I don’t see many adults like me. If there are elders here, it means that they survived
—Participant from Spring 2021
Keshet youth programs were a lifeline to me in 2021 especially because of the pandemic when I was living in a homophobic household and I couldn’t find community in person. The multitude of Keshet’s accessible online programming was something I really needed and feel really grateful I had access to. Building community with other Jewish LGBTQ+ youth especially other POC was especially meaningful.
—Participant from Spring 2021
For any questions about the form, this program, or accommodations, please email Jaimie Krass ([email protected]).
Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, Jewish Multiracial Network, JYCA – Jewish Youth for Community Action, Mitsui Collective, BBYO, Eshel, Habonim Dror, jGirls, Jewish Youth Climate Movement, JOFA (Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance), JPride, JQY, Camp Havaya, Moving Traditions, NFTY, SOJOURN, USY and Young Judaea.