By Jaimie Krass
Last night, we hosted our final Monday night hangout for LGBTQ+ Jewish teens of 2023. The facilitators, a fabulous group of five teens from all over the U.S., planned a mini talent show for the occasion. They played guitar, sang, showed their artistic creations, read poems, played the kazoo and ukulele (simultaneously!), and did their makeup. With each talent shared, their cheering resounded, their smiles grew, and their joy abounded.
It felt like its own Hanukkah miracle.
In a world that seems to be overflowing with strife, heartbreak, and dehumanization, these teens built their own world of celebration and connection. At the end of a year of an unprecedented number of proposed and passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, most of which disproportionately targets youth, these incredible high schoolers chose to spend time celebrating each other and the fabulous gifts they bring to the world.
If that isn’t the spirit of resistance and resilience that we all celebrate each Hanukkah, then I don’t know what is!
This Hanukkah celebration was also a glimpse of the world that Keshet youth will be building at our Shabbatonim this coming spring.
From the moment they arrive at these youth-led weekend retreats, LGBTQ+ and ally Jewish teens in grades 8 through 12 are celebrated as their full, unique, authentic selves. They create artwork, celebrate Shabbat, attend a Queer Prom, dive into conversations about what’s going on in the world and how they can channel their own power into creating change, share about their favorite books, movies, games, and so much more.
This is the world LGBTQ+ Jewish youth deserve year-round. We know there’s a long road ahead before we complete the building of that world, but we are grateful to you for being with us at every milestone along the way.
In the meantime, if you or a young person you know could use a real-life reminder of what that world feels like, please join us or send them information about our 2024 Shabbatonim. We would be delighted to celebrate with you!