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.
This year has been quite the journey. Here at Keshet, we’re reflecting on all we’ve learned and the stories we’ve shared. Below you’ll find our top ten blog posts of 2016. Here’s looking at you, 2017.
1. From a Rabbi, An Open Letter to People Who are LGBTQ
In the wake of the Orlando attack, Rabbi Shai Held shares words of support with the LGBTQ community: “No amount of hatred or bigotry can ever change that simple but stunning fact: As a human being, you matter, and matter ultimately.”
2. Queer at a Jewish Boarding School in North Carolina
“More than anything the AHA community has done for me, it has taught me that being queer doesn’t exclude me from practicing Judaism, but rather that I should feel encouraged to find my own connection to the culture.”
3. Our Love Party: Inviting Community When Family Won’t Come
“We are two women who for very similar (yet different) reasons are starting off envisioning and planning our wedding without the history of years and years of tradition to tell us what to do. We both have our relationships with the faiths that we grew up in, the ideas of God that we grew up with, and our family and friends, and all of them have loud and insistent voices. Whether we allow those voices that speak in shame and judgment in or not, they are all coming to this party.”
4. Q&A with Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the White House’s Primary LGBT Liason
Raffi, a Jewish woman, is the first openly transgender member of staff at the White House: “As a Jewish person of color, I’m grateful that Keshet takes seriously diversity, inclusion, and fighting for social justice for all people. I’m hopeful that Keshet will maintain this intersectional approach to so many key issues facing the LGBTQ community and be informed by the Jewish values that underscore so many of its successes.”
5. An Interview with Luzer Twersky: From Ultra-Orthodox to “Transparent” Star
Luzer Twersky is an actor who plays Mendel in Season Two of Amazon’s hit television show “Transparent.” He grew up in an insular Hasidic community in Brooklyn, which he left in his early 20s.
6. Goals and Hopes During Elul
“Elul arrives again and my heart is stirred by the full potential of what lies ahead. So, here are my goals for 5777: Be the very best husband and father I can be. Be present for my life partner and for my children. Listen to them carefully. Understand not only their words but the context of those words, the meaning behind them, the emotion in which they are presented. Try harder and harder even when I feel I can’t do any better.”
7. The Road to Pride: Supporting My Transgender Daughter
“During the first year, we cancelled the Bar Mitzvah that was fast approaching. This was a huge loss for us, because we did not think we could get her to do a Bat Mitzvah. She spent a great deal of time being angry with God. As happiness set in, confidence continued to grow, and support continued to flow from our Jewish community, Lily announced that it was time to start scheduling her Bat Mitzvah.”
8. Reflections from an Orthodox Rabbi with a Trans Child
“I’m writing this as the father of a transgender child, who feels constricted in a space too narrow to accept my child and so many of God’s children as equals. I’m also frustrated, as someone who identifies as some version of traditional, at how small we have made the Torah and the limits that we have put on God and holiness. It’s my intention that by expanding Torah thoughts we can get closer to understanding how big and inclusive the Torah really is.”
9. Sitting Down with Emma: A 15-Year-Old Social Media Maven
“When I first started f.em.inist (in 2012, I think), it was mainly a safe space for me to rant about the middle schoolers who picked on me because I was always making comments about how something was racist or sexist or homophobic.”
10. Queer Jews of Color: We Belong
“My personal googling project became bigger when I realized that likely I wasn’t the only one on a mad Google hunt. This needed to be easier for all of us. No Jew should need to spend hours on the Internet to feel like they might belong. So, I reached out to the Jewish Multiracial Network and proposed a collaboration to pull together all the resources we could find for LGBTQ Jews of color to make that search just a little easier.”
Pronounced: khah-SID-ik, Origin: Hebrew, a stream within ultra-Orthodox Judaism that grew out of an 18th-century mystical revival movement.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.