Passover and LGBT Liberation: What Is Your Community’s Story?

April 5, 2012

By Idit Klein

Human Rights Campaign: Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights

Image of the HRC's header for their Backstory Blog.

This post comes from Idit Klein, Executive Director of Keshet:

In a few days, Jews all over the world will gather with family and friends to tell the story of Passover. It’s a story of the past but it’s also a story of the present. It’s a story of coming into identity, of community being formed, of a national narrative taking shape; it’s a story of liberation.

This year, I ask you to think about what kind of story you want to tell about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender inclusion and equality in your Jewish community.

Image of Idit Klein smiling at the camera.

We know that the idea of basic equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people is overwhelmingly embraced by the majority of American Jews. But what does this mean?

A synagogue allows a lesbian couple to join as a family? Does your organization’s non-discrimination policy explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity?

Or does this commitment go deeper? Some questions to consider:

  • Do membership forms use “Member 1/ Member 2” rather than “Mother/Father” or “Husband/Wife”?
  • Do youth educators tailor lesson plans or activities on Jewish life cycle events and family to reflect the reality of LGBT families?
  • Can LGBT employees obtain equal health care coverage, including for transgender people?

Keshet stands behind the Jewish Organization Equality Index, which is asking these important questions and helping to make the Jewish community inclusive of LGBT Jews.

For the past 11 years, Keshet has worked with hundreds of synagogues, federations, day schools, summer camps, JCCs, youth groups, and others – giving community leaders the tools and knowledge they need to cultivate inclusion. We offer in- depth trainings and consultations to Jewish educators and lay leaders and produce resources such as DVDs, curriculum, posters, and a book of queer readings of biblical texts to help create inclusive Jewish communities nationwide.

Every organization that fills out the Jewish Organizational Equality Index will receive an evaluation and those that are models of inclusion will be publically recognized for their work. Most importantly, all the organizations will gain access to resources for advancing inclusion, an incredible opportunity for each organization to learn where they stand among their peers and publically take their commitment to equality to the next level.

This year, as we celebrate the exodus story, let us remember that LGBT people are still coming out of Egypt and that it is up to all of us to make this a journey to freedom. what-is-your-communitys-story