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.
Are you looking for something interesting to watch during quarantine? Do you like hearing motivating words from others to keep you hopeful during this difficult time? Do you enjoy learning from your fellow LGBTQ Jews?
Well, look no further! Season 1 of Keshet’s new Joy and Resilience series is now out on YouTube. You’ll have the chance to watch engaging conversations with LGBTQ Jews about what gives them resilience and hope. It’s a great way to feel connected with other queer Jews while also learning something new!
Dubbs Weinblatt, Keshet’s Associate Director of Education and Training for Metro New York, helped create the series and interviewed the guests. They told me: “I’m a huge believer in the power of storytelling and how hearing others’ stories and perspectives can change us and connect us in a fundamental and profound way. During a few brainstorming sessions with the Education and Training team, we thought it could be really incredible to hear from Jewish LGBTQ leaders about resilience and joy during these challenging moments in life. As LGBTQ Jews, we experience a different set of barriers and obstacles because not only is the world not built for us, a lot of times it feels like it’s against us. So to push beyond that and experience actual joy built from resilience is a miracle in and of itself. And who better to learn from than those living it day in and day out? Each of our guests draw from a different reserve of resilience whether it’s Torah, music, teaching, community or past experiences. While they are finding their way through life and these tough moments, they are making space and creating a path for all of us to feel like we are supported and that we belong.”
Dubbs is right – listening to these dialogues with our nine guests is inspiring! So get comfortable, grab some popcorn, and get ready to watch some great dialogues with these nine inspirational queer Jewish people!
Check out the guests for Season 1 of Joy and Resilience below (you can click their names to see their episode!), and learn more about the series here!
- Rabbi Lauren Tuchman was recently named to Jewish Week’s 36 under 36 for her incredible leadership regarding the inclusion of Jews with disabilities into all aspects of Jewish. She has also taught at several synagogues and Jewish venues across America. In this interview, Lauren discusses why she views resilience as a natural human reaction, her journey through rabbinical school, and how people committing to doing grassroots work give her hope for the future.
- Eric Marcus founded and hosts the award-winning podcast Making Gay History, which uses old interviews to bring light to often-forgotten LGBTQ rights champions. Eric is also an author and the founder and chair of the Stonewall 50 Consortium, which brings together nonprofit organizations committed to producing material on LGBTQ history and culture. Here he discusses bringing joy to the fight for equality, teaching resilience by example, and the struggles of being the only queer or Jewish person in the room.
- Noam Sienna has published works on Jewish cultural heritage in several journals and has been an educator in places all around the world. He is the editor of the book A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969. Noam talks about finding joy in uncovering the history of queer Jewish people, the sense of community and resilience this brings, and some of the most interesting queer Jewish people he discovered in his research.
- Koach Baruch Frazier wears many hats – in addition to being an audiologist and musician, he is the co-convener of the Tzedek Lab, and a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. His work focuses on dismantling racism and achieving liberation and equality for everyone. In this interview, Koach explains the importance of rituals, the difference between listening and hearing, and how letting out grief can lead to healing.
- Talia Johnson is a service leader, writer, activist, and educator. She is the Chair of the Board of Directors for Heartspark Press, a press run by and for trans women and non-binary people. Talia is also part of the leadership team at Autistics for Autistics Ontario. She is the first transgender woman to be ordained a Kohenet (Hebrew priestess), and she advocates for LGBTQ equality, disability rights, and mental health. Talia explains the inherent resilience in surviving in a world that was not built for you, becoming a guardian of people who live on the fringes of society, and building and evolving new rituals and traditions.
- Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie is the Founding Spirtual Leader of Lab/Shul NYC, as well as the creator of Storahtelling, Inc. He received his rabbinical ordination and is an educator and a writer. In 2016 The Forward named him one of the 32 “Most Inspiring Rabbis” in America. Amichai discusses the importance of alignment in centering yourself, mental health, and how queerness can set you up for success.
- Darren Sukonick is a lawyer who now works as a principal at Matthew Sapera Fine Homes in Toronto, Canada. He has previously served on the board of the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and its LGBTQ Task Force, as well as working with several other Jewish organizations. Darren is currently the president of Congregation Shirat HaYam, a pluralistic congregation located in Massachusetts. In this interview, Darren discusses the importance of having a community of like-minded people, the moving experience of attending Passover Seders in support of people who had HIV and AIDS, and what Jewish values and practices he has relied on during difficult moments in his life.
- Rachel Mason is best known for directing the recent Netflix documentary Circus of Books, which focuses on her story growing up as the child of pornographers who were at the center of the gay community. Rachel is also an artist and a musician; her song “Give You Everything” appears at the end of the Netflix film. In her interview, she talks about finding joy in difficult moments, the spiritual importance of music in Judaism, and what inspired her to create Circus of Books.
- Kate Bornstein is the author of several award-winning books, including Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and The Rest of Us. She is also a playwright and an artist, and has received praise from several international civil rights groups. Here Kate discusses her inspirations for writing Gender Outlaw, how personal identity can change over time – and why that’s okay! – and creating art in service of activism.