Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
We mark time, Jewishly, through the cycle of the Jewish calendar and holidays. Each month and holiday poses questions for spiritual reflection and growth, and reminds us that we are part of something larger than ourselves. The High Holiday season extends through the months of Elul and Tishrei, beginning with Rosh Chodesh Elul and ending with Simchat Torah, near the end of Tishrei.
The month of Elul is a time of spiritual preparation for the High Holidays, when we are to be shaken and awoken to act righteously, to act for justice, to turn toward our best selves. Our spiritual course winds through Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Simchat Torah, guiding us along a path of reflection, inspiration, reckoning, mourning, commitment, growth, and action.
As in the Jewish world, in the LGBTQ community we mark time by a calendar of LGBTQ holidays. In the fall, our own period of reflection, inspiration, mourning, reckoning, and call to action is bookended by National Coming Out Day, on Erev Yom Kippur – tomorrow, October 11th – and Transgender Day of Remembrance, on November 20th.
On National Coming Out Day, we are called and inspired to rise up and use our voices. We respond to Harvey Milk’s call: “Gay brothers and sisters, you must come out. Come out to your parents, your relatives, your friends, if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors, to your fellow workers, to the people who work where you eat and shop. Break down the myths. Destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.”
We come out with loud proclamations and with quiet whispers. We do it together, because we know that one by one, by living our lives with authenticity and wholeness, we break down the misconceptions and fears, we heal the fractures in our communities and in our world.
We come out – those of us who can do so safely – because we know that others cannot. For many transgender people, coming out must be weighed against the risk of violence in response. In the first six months of 2016, we lost a trans sibling to anti-trans violence on average every 14 days. As we are reminded on Transgender Day of Remembrance, but must remember every day of the year, there is an epidemic of violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color. Now is a time for reflection, remembrance, and repentance, but it is also a time for action.
This fall, as our calendar moves through the High Holidays and from National Coming Out Day to Trans Day of Remembrance, Keshet is asking you to take action. Raise up your voice as we sound the shofar. Come out for justice. Come out for safety. Come out for an end to transphobic violence. Come out for a world in which all of us live lives of dignity, safety, and opportunity.
For years, Keshet’s Safe Zone Stickers have been a beacon – a sign that this synagogue, this classroom, this camp counselor would welcome and embrace LGBTQ people. These spaces are necessary and important, but insufficient. As we enter 5777, join Keshet in committing to make the whole world a safe zone.
Join our Safe Zone Campaign today:
- Order your free new stickers, with a refreshed design and a new sticker featuring the colors of the transgender pride flag.
- Take part in our social media campaign by sharing this graphic and answering this question: What are you going to do to make the whole world a safe zone?
Together, we can come out for justice and equality for all LGBTQ people, and ensure that this season – and all year long – the whole world is a safe zone.