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.
Nearly a year and a half ago, my family of four attended a local Jewish community Rosh Hashanah event. There were other young families there, and my 3-year-old had a blast petting chickens, sampling different flavors of honey, and forgetting about her pesky newborn brother for a few minutes. As is often the case at events like this, my wife and I could clearly see we were the only queer family in attendance.
While our children were too young to observe family dynamics at the time, there would be a time in the near future when they will begin to notice being the only family in the room with two moms. I schmoozed with the event coordinator and heard about the great programming for Jewish families. I asked, “Why are we the only gay family here? What have you done to reach out to other LGBTQ families?” The answer I got took me by surprise. She asked, “Why do Jewish LGBTQ families need a special invitation? Everyone is welcome at all of our events.”
Why do we need a special invitation?
That question stuck with me. Since having children, I have felt compelled to seek out other LGBTQ Jewish families. Rather than looking for an invitation to be included in other programming, why not create community programming that celebrates families that are queer and Jewish? Why not create spaces where my children can see their experience reflected in other families?
Eighteen months later, as Keshet’s Families with Young Children Coordinator, I am doing just that. I work to create spaces for queer, Jewish families to come together to celebrate, to learn, to build community and make connections with one another and the Jewish community. I am delighted that, at every event, I meet at least two or three new families who have also been seeking these experiences for themselves and for their children. Keshet and PJ Library*, our funder, have empowered me to bring together so many of these families who otherwise may not have crossed paths. I am excited every day to meet new people, build connections, and expand a growing network of families like mine who are full of queer, Jewish pride.
*This program is made possible through a grant from PJ Library, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, and PJ Library Alliance partners.