A Space to be Young, Jewish, and LGBTQ

Last month, 76 teenagers, 9 college-aged CITs, and 18 adult educators from across the country joined together for our largest to date gathering at a Keshet LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton. The weekend was exhausting, but exhilarating, and I cannot wait to do it all again in just a few weeks!

Teen leaders planned and facilitated each session, and the participants brought their full selves to each and every discussion. The self-awareness, kindness, vulnerability, and desire to change the world expressed by the teens assured me that the future of the Jewish community is in very good hands with this next generation of leaders.

The sheer number of partners who made this program a reality inspires me with great hope: from our lead partner, Hazon, to the support of Jewish Federations on both coasts (the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Federation of San Diego and the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys), to the remarkable list of co-sponsors which includes every major non-Orthodox Jewish youth movement: BBYO, Camp JRF, Eshel, Habonim Dror North America, JQ International, JQY, Moving Traditions, NFTY, SOJOURN, USY, and Young Judaea.

This year, we brought along a filmmaker to capture some of what makes the Shabbaton so special. Watch the video and hear from the teens themselves about how this magical weekend is empowering them with self-confidence to be who they are authentically in all aspects of their lives, and especially to bring that creative energy to their lives as Jews.

While it’s a coincidence that registration for our West Coast LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton closes during Passover, it does seem symbolic. As a festival of liberation, the themes of Passover resonate strongly throughout the Shabbaton’s programming. Plus, this weekend is different from all other weekends – and and as one of the teen planning committee members punned, “we’d never ask LGBTQ-Jewish teens to sit up straight!”

We as a Jewish community have an obligation and an opportunity to invest in our young people to ensure that our future is bright, diverse, and whole. If you know a teen who would benefit from participating in the Shabbaton, please share this video and blog post with them. And if you are a teen who’s interested in joining us May 13-15 in California, sign up today.

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Join us for a weekend of fun, community, and learning for and by Jewish LGBTQ and ally teens! Meet new friends, learn about LGBTQ organizing and identities, and celebrate Shabbat with a warm, vibrant community of LGBTQ and ally teens and educators. Click here to find out more about the Keshet LGBTQ & Ally Teen Shabbaton!

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