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.
Over the last 365 days, Keshet has held 5 Shabbatonim– including 2 in areas of the country where we have not held Shabbatonim before—the Midwest and the South. We worked with 265 organizations in the Leadership Project—helping them develop plans for sustainable and concrete actions with the goal of creating more inclusive communities. We hosted 3 Jewish community canvass days for Yes on 3, working to protect trans rights in the state of Massachusetts—including the single largest canvass day of the entire campaign. We worked with teens and with children. With families and with synagogues. With camps and JCCs and with LGBTQ Jews and allies from all over.
The numbers are important, but so is understanding the impact that these numbers have.
So we asked some members of the Keshet staff to tell us about some work we have done this year that they are proud of.
Here is what they said;
In 2018, I was privileged to be a part of Keshet’s Advocacy Team, working to protect transgender rights in Massachusetts through the Yes on 3 Campaign. Together with our amazing Jewish community partners, we fought hard and won a sweet victory in November. Now were ready to fight for more equality and justice in 2019! –Catherine Bell, Senior Director, Program and Leadership
Chicago launched its first ever Leadership Project cohort, with 22 orginizations participating! I helped organize a rally for trans solidarity with local synagogues after the anti-trans memo leaked in November. –Essie Shacher-Hill, Education and Training Manager, Chicago
Earlier in December, I was excited to join Communications Manager, Jordan Pelavin and Keshet Shabbaton Alum, Jasmine, in facilitating a bi-lingual discussion about LGBTQ identity with the current cohort of teens participating in the Amitim Fellowship. For many of them, it was their first time exploring these topics but we had a great discussion about the importance of having LGBTQ organizations like Keshet that stand up for equality and inclusion, how organizations can help change culture and behavior beyond laws and policies, as well as some of the challenges LGBTQ Jews face in the US. It was amazing to be part of that space where people from different languages, cultures, and countries were able to come together to learn from each other and to see how grateful the Amitim Fellows were to be able to visit Keshet and grapple with some of these concepts. –Kaden Mohamed, Executive Assistant
I am so proud of our work to engage Massachusetts Jewish communities in the fight to preserve trans rights. Less than ten years ago, we struggled to mobilize half a dozen congregations and Jewish groups to support trans civil rights legislation. This year, Keshet rallied 100 synagogues and Jewish organizations — 70% of all Jewish institutions in the state! — to stand strong for trans rights and dignity. And we won! –Idit Klein, President & CEO
I loved getting to hear about the Leadership Project kick-off days taking place this year—especially all the ones in the Midwest! It’s really inspiring to see so many communities and organizations step up and take on the work of creating environments where every Jew feels welcomed and loved. –Jordan Pelavin, Communications Manager
My favorite project of this past year was overseeing the pilot of our Leadership Intensive Shabbaton, where we had four veteran Shabbaton educators serve as faculty and work with Ami and me to create some high level sessions on leadership tools and frameworks for our teens. The teens were really energized by opportunity learn and grow together in this deeper way. What I most proud of organizationally is the Yes on 3! campaign Mimi and others led, and how effectively Keshet mobilized the Jewish community to stand up and vote to affirm trans rights. -Justin Rosen Smolen, National Director of Youth Programs