Organization: Keshet, Newton, MA
Grant Year: 2023
Project Director: Rabbi Micah Buck-Yael
Type of Grant: Signature
Grant Amount: $150,000 (3 years)
Keshet – To develop a regional initiative in the Southwest that will bring resources, trainings, and cohort-based learning opportunities to Jewish educators and institutional leaders to support them in building communities of LGBTQ+ belonging.
What aspect of this project are you most excited to see in action?
Keshet envisions a world in which all LGBTQ+ Jews and our families can thrive. In a time in which our identities are increasingly targeted, it is more important than ever for our synagogues, schools, summer camps, service providers, and leaders to emphasize the dignity, safety, and belonging of LGBTQ+ individuals. We believe that with knowledge and practice, Jewish organizations can be places where LGBTQ+ people can not only belong, but thrive and lead. Kachel Kohnhorst, our Southwest Education & Training Manager, is excited to bring this work to her home in the Southwest and help communities truly live into the values of kavod (respect), tzedek (justice), and areivut (communal responsibility).
In three years, what impact are you hoping to see in the Southwest and more broadly?
At the fullest, we envision communities where LGBTQ+ people participate and lead at all levels, make contributions and offer input in all areas of communal life, feel that our communities are with us in the fight for civil rights, and feel integral and fully seen in Jewish life. Because each community is different, and because the LGBTQ+ community is so diverse, this will look different in each community. Our goal is to help organizations gain the tools to begin this work and the training and support to advance the work over the long term.
What’s the most meaningful or fun experience you’ve had working with educators, leaders, or students?
It feels impossible to think of only one most meaningful experience! Just within the past week, I shared Shabbat with LGBTQ+ Jewish young adults (some of whom said that it had been over a decade since they had felt comfortable in a Jewish space); facilitated a session with Jewish professionals who spoke passionately about the changes they were ready to make in their institutions; and heard from summer camp leaders who talked about the impact of a year of work with Keshet. At its best, the work for belonging in our communities is joyful and relational–skills that Jewish communities in the Southwest and elsewhere have cultivated deeply.