Protecting Transgender Rights

When anti-trans groups sought to legalize discrimination against transgender people in Massachusetts, Keshet mobilized the largest Jewish campaign in history to protect transgender rights — and we won! Beginning in early 2018, Keshet’s campaign saw an unprecedented outpouring of support to protect the rights of trans people in restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and other public spaces. Seventy percent of Massachusetts Jewish community organizations joined our Yes on 3 campaign, including nearly 100 synagogues. In partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, Keshet organized Jewish Community Canvass Days that were the largest canvass days of the entire statewide campaign. We are deeply proud that in 2018, the Jewish communities of Massachusetts, along with the majority of Massachusetts voters, sent an unequivocal message: Transgender people cannot become strangers among us; they are full and equal members of society with the right to live in safety and dignity.

Kavod Achshav|Dignity Now: A Campaign for Trans Youth

In February 2016, newly-elected President Donald Trump’s administration rescinded the federal policy that protected the rights of transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice in schools.  Knowing that this law wasn’t just about what bathroom transgender students have the right to use, but also was about whether transgender students have the basic right to feel safe and supported, Keshet quickly launched a campaign to make clear to transgender youth in our communities that they are respected, supported, and wanted.  In partnership with numerous other Jewish organizations, Keshet asked Jewish institutions to pledge to our trans youth  to make their Jewish communities safe, affirming, and inclusive. A list of the organizational signatories can be found here.

Preventing Anti-LGBTQ Bullying

In response to a spate of suicides in 2009 brought on by homophobic bullying and intolerance, Keshet launched Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives— a Jewish community campaign to stop homophobic and transphobic bullying. In less than three months, more than 11,000 individuals and 1,000 Jewish organizations signed on, making a public commitment to stand up against demeaning treatment or bullying due to real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The campaign also featured the first unified call to action by every major Jewish youth movement in which the youth leaders of BBYO, NCSY, NFTY, USY, and Young Judaea urged every Jewish teen to stand up against anti-LGBTQ bullying.

Fighting for Marriage Equality in Massachusetts

From March 2004 through July 2007, Keshet worked to mobilize Jewish community members throughout the state to preserve marriage equality in Massachusetts. Together with the JCRCJALSA, and other partners in the MassEquality coalition, Keshet helped defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that sought to ban same-sex marriage.

In 2004, polls showed that the majority of Massachusetts voters were either undecided or did not support equal marriage rights. Similarly, most rabbis were not willing to voice their support publicly for marriage equality. But by 2007, the numbers had flipped – due, in part, to Keshet’s organizing and education – with 70% of people in Massachusetts in favor of protecting same-sex marriage and more than 100 rabbis publicly voicing their support.

We gave rabbis and other community leaders the resources and information they needed to take on leadership to ensure that marriage equality would not be overturned. Over time, more and more Jews viewed the fight to protect same-sex marriage not only as a matter of civil rights, but as an expression of Jewish values. Together, we mobilized the Jewish community to engage in a state-wide advocacy campaign. Delegations of Jews met with state legislators who were undecided about the proposed amendment that would overturn the legality of same-sex marriage. And our advocacy made a difference!