By Chaim Ezra Harrison
Keshet is made up of a team of dedicated, smart, and fun individuals, and we’re conducting interviews with them so that you get to know them a little better! We recently spoke with Keshet’s New York Education and Training Manager Rakhel Silverman-Gitin (they/them). Here’s what they had to say:
What excites and fulfills you the most about working at Keshet?
I admire the passion and energy that every staff member brings to this work. It’s contagious! Each one of us is so deeply and personally invested. We are building olam haba (the world to come), as it should and could be; a place where each LGBTQ+ Jew is seen and valued, experiencing equality and belonging. I feel excited and fulfilled whenever I see us move the needle, changing someone’s heart and mind, such as helping a loved one know the importance of affirming their child, or making concrete changes within an institution, such as helping a synagogue craft a trans-inclusive restroom policy.
What brings you joy?
I love Jewish ritual and I love being in nature, so my “happy place” are my regular Shabbat camping trips with my spouse. My favorite part is always when we make havdalah at our campsite, the scent of spices mixing with the woodsy aroma. In those moments I feel like I am wrapped in a warm hug- surrounded by family, nature, tradition, and the divine.
What do you value most in a job/work environment?
I value genuine relationships and care on staff. My Keshet colleagues and I can laugh together and be silly, and we also hold each other and care when times are hard personally or professionally.
What is a book, movie, TV show, or podcast you’ve experienced recently that you’d recommend?
I just finished “Tales of the City: A Limited Series (2019).” I cannot believe that I didn’t know about it until now! Elliot Page stars in this drama about an intergenerational queer community in San Francisco. It is about chosen family and many parts of the queer experience- from the beautiful and joyful to the complicated, messy, and political. It will make you laugh, cry, gasp, and think. And it’s one-season, so it’s easy to binge.
If you could tell your childhood self anything, what would it be?
Resist the urge to put everything in a “before and after” box. Life is neither static nor linear. Both your trauma recovery and queer journey are cyclical. There will be moments of deep pain and beautiful joy. As cliche as it may sound- embrace the journey! You’ll get there.
Name one song on your playlist that you can’t live without.
“Secrets” by Mary Lambert! Mary is an iconic queer-fat-mental illness-activist-singer/songwriter. “Secrets” is my go-to self-love-anthem and pump up song.
What are you currently working on that you’re most excited about?
My colleague EJ and I recently created a guide to being trans-inclusive within gendered affinity spaces such as Sisterhoods, Men’s Clubs, and women’s Rosh Chodesh groups. As a nonbinary person who grew up in gendered Jewish spaces and then attended a traditionally women’s college, I have a lot of thoughts about how to approach these conversations with care and intention. I hope that this resource will be helpful for communities who already have these kinds of spaces or are considering creating them.