By Naomi Goldberg
In one week, Keshet, an organization working for the full inclusion of LGBT Jews in Jewish life, will host its annual Keshet Cabaret – a chance to come together, dress up, and celebrate leaders in the LGBT Jewish community. This year’s honorees including Idit Klein, Keshet’s executive director. Idit has been at Keshet for 10 years – a lifetime in terms of change in the Jewish LGBT world.
Think back to ten years ago when Idit first got involved with Keshet. Gay and lesbian couples could not marry anywhere in the U.S., and only one state prohibited discrimination based on gender identity in the workplace. The Conservative Movement of Judaism hadn’t yet issued its teshuvot affirming gay and lesbian Jews or its statement on transgender Jews. Trembling Before G-d hadn’t come out yet. Idit worked out of a home office. Fast forward to today, when LGBT Jews around the U.S. are finding new and innovative ways to celebrate rituals (and they can legally marry in eight states and the District of Columbia), the two largest streams of Judaism ordain openly LGBT rabbis, and the nation’s Jewish youth groups make videos to combat bullying. Keshet has offices in Boston, San Francisco, and Denver and a diverse, growing staff.
My, how far we’ve come. And, LGBT Jews around the U.S. owe much to Keshet and Idit’s leadership. You may not have had a Keshet staff member speak at your congregation, meet with your clergy, or train teachers in your community, but chances are through workshops at conferences for clergy, Jewish educators, and youth, the idea that Jewish communities can be inclusive of LGBT Jews and the tools to help them become inclusive have been developed and shared by Keshet. The film Hineni has been shown around the world and has given communities a way to talk about LGBT inclusion through one girl’s story. Posters celebrating LGBT Jews hang in classrooms around the country.
Join me in saying “kol ha kavod” to Idit and Keshet! Thank you for all you’ve done, and all you continue to do for LGBT Jews around the U.S.