Featured Partner

Keshet Leadership Project

January 16th, 2015

Keshet3_300x200Not too long ago, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jews were largely invisible in American Jewish life. Many LGBTQ Jews hid a primary part of themselves in order to remain involved in their Jewish communities. Other LGBTQ Jews left their Jewish communities altogether and never returned.

Significant change was needed to ensure that more of these Jews opted in to Jewish communal life, and that institutions provided opportunities for them to engage in Jewish experiences as their full selves. So, for more than a decade, Keshet has worked to ensure that Jewish communities and organizations have programs and policies that embrace LGBTQ Jews. As part of these important efforts, the Keshet Leadership Project (KLP) is a direct response to communities saying they want even more help and better strategies to welcome these individuals and to engage them in meaningful Jewish life and learning.

Keshet2_300x200Through KLP, Keshet works with organizations, day schools, synagogues, youth groups, camps, and social service agencies along a continuum of inclusion—from those who are just beginning to acknowledge their need for improvement, to those who have deep and sustained initiatives in place and who strive to broaden their reach. A year-long multi-phased program, KLP gathers, trains, provides resources, and supports these institutions to become more inclusive to LGBTQ individuals and families.

The Project kicks off with the Keshet Leadership Summit, a dynamic, experiential day-long program designed to build the capacity of individual leaders. Follow-up support and training provided by Keshet helps Jewish leaders turn their LGBTQ inclusion action plans into on-the-ground, sustainable changes that impact programming, policies, and organizational culture of Jewish institutions.

A participant in Keshet’s Leadership Summit in Los Angeles last year commented, “This is a vital issue and, despite the enormous gains that have been made in recent years, there is still a long road to travel. And so, even in the liberal community of Reform Judaism, there is much to learn.”

Another participant said, “Understanding that while sexual and gender identity issues are complex subjects, the actions we all can take in helping each other to feel included and embraced, are pretty simplistic and easy to incorporate and have a major impact.”

Keshet1_300x200Just last year, Keshet’s training helped professionals address homophobia and gender stereotypes, reaching more than 70,000 youth. And Keshet provided the leaders of 53 Jewish institutions with tools to make their organizations more inclusive, influencing 166,000 organizational members across the U.S.

Jewish communities are stronger and more vibrant when all Jews are actively included. And all Jews should have opportunities to engage in meaningful Jewish experiences that shape their Jewish journeys for years to come. With this as a guiding principle, Keshet’s work with organizations and their leaders creates important and long-lasting changes in communities across the country.

This Jim Joseph Foundation grant to Keshet (2014-2016) is to expand the Keshet Leadership Project to New York and Los Angeles.