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Originally posted on a professional queer jew's blog:

I realize I’ve been a little M.I.A. lately, but I have a good excuse! I have started to use my organizing skills in a new way. As you may know, the grant that made my position possible at the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund reached its successful completion early this spring. So, after many years, I left the work of advancing the lives of LGBT Jews in the very capable hands of Sasha T. Goldberg who is the Bay Area Director of Keshet (info).

I am still in the loop: I still serve on local committees for JCRC, NUJLS, and Keshet, proudly claim my membership at Sha’ar Zahav, as well as continue to be involved in the work of a variety of groups. After only a few months consulting outside of the Jewish community, I accepted a temporary position with the New Israel Fund…

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trans remembrance shabbat

Since 1999, November 20th has been set aside in cities across the country as Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day memorializes those who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred. High rates of murder and other violence continues to be one of the most critical issues facing our transgender communities; and more and more people, trans and non-trans, are raising their voices in commemoration and protest.

Since 1999, November 20th has been set aside in cities across the country as Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day memorializes those who have been killed due to anti-transgender hatred. High rates of murder and other violence continues to be one of the most critical issues facing our transgender communities; and more and more people, trans and non-trans, are raising their voices in commemoration and protest.

This Friday evening marks the sixth year that San Francisco’s progressive reform Congregation Sha’ar Zahav has stepped into the role of Jewish community caretaker for the annual sacred event of transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR).

More and more people, trans and non-trans, are raising their voices in commemoration each year.

This particular evening, open to the greater community – both Jews and our Jewish allies, will be focused on remembering all who have suffered from anti-transgender violence.

The service beginning at 7:30pm led by Rabbi Camille Angel and Martin Rawlings-Fein will be focused in part on the holy act of remembering.

Together as a community we will read the names of those that have been murdered this year due to anti-transgender violence. As well as all of the unknown whom no one really knew the following names will be included:

♥ Idania Roberta Sevilla Raudales z”l, ♥ Luisa Alvarado Hernández z”l, ♥ Lady Óscar Martínez Salgado z”l, ♥ Reana ‘Cheo’ Bustamente z”l, ♥ Génesis Briget Makaligton z”l, ♥ Krissy Bates z”l, ♥ Fergie Alice Ferg z”l, ♥ Jessica Rollon z”l, ♥ Tyra Trent z”l, ♥ Priscila Brandão z”l, ♥ Marcal Camero Tye z”l, ♥ Shakira Harahap z”l, ♥ Miss Nate Nate (or Née) Eugene Davis z”l, ♥ Lashai Mclean z”l, ♥ Didem z”l, ♥ Camila Guzman z”l, ♥ Gaby z”l, ♥ Gaurav Gopalan z”l, ♥ Shelley Hilliard z”l

May each of these names be for a blessing. 

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An Orthodox Gay First?

Orthodox-ordained Rabbi Steve Greenberg presiding at same-sex wedding of Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan in Washington, DC synagogue, 10 November 2011 (photo: Roee Ruttenberg)

Orthodox-ordained Rabbi Steve Greenberg presiding at same-sex wedding of Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan in Washington, DC synagogue, 10 November 2011 (photo: Roee Ruttenberg)

Yasher Koach to chatanim (חתנים or grooms) Yoni Bock and Ron Kaplan!

Standing in matching kittle’s (קיטלנים or traditionally white linen robes that Ashkenazim are known to be buried in after wearing it to their wedding as well as annually on Yom Kippur to signify purity, holiness and new beginnings) and orange kippah’s (כִּפוֹת or platter-shaped head caps worn for respect) the two men stood under the chupah (a symbol of the home that the couple will build together) in Washington D.C. holding hands.

I understand from the blogsphere that many in the Orthodox tradition are dismissing the wedding as both of the grooms are men. Although no one has asked me my opinion on the matter here it is: of course it counts. The grooms were married in Washington D.C. by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, author of the 2004 groundbreaking book Wrestling with God & Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition. 

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countering the untrue

As the GLBT portal of the 16th Street J, The Kurlander Program for GLBT Outreach and Engagement (GLOE) engages metropolitan Washington’s GLBT Jewish community by sponsoring original programming and fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment at the Washington DCJCC.

My colleague in Washington D.C., who like me works to break down obstacles in our communities paths to living Jewishly, responds to the article, “Bridging the gap between faith and sexuality” (WJW, Oct. 20) in the brilliantly written (and re-posted below) letter. This article that my colleague writes about seems to express a limited capacity as to the centrality of Judaism in the lives of many that are outside of a hetero-normative experience.

I too have a limited capacity to understand how the role of Judaism can not be central to my life. Proudly I am as Jewish as I am a proud Lesbian, American, Feminist and ally to identities that are created in the image of the divine, צֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים‎‎; t’zelem elohim, but are not my own. Judaism helps to make meaning of my life, help me understand the inexplicable and it gives me some structure to the chaos around me. This afternoon, the chaos around me can be read simply through the blatant disregard for LGBT Jewish identity in this passive Editors response to my colleagues letter, “WJW had no intention to take a position on this issue.”

This evening I am speaking on a panel hosted by Spectrum, Marin’s LGBT Center. We will be talking about how different religions handle biblical prohibitions against homosexuality and on the role religion plays in helping make meaning of our LGBT lives. I anticipate questions about how LGBT Jews continue to look beyond words written in Torah as well as how it is that so many LGBT Jews continue to love a community of cultural relevance, faith and spirituality when some continue to foster feelings of marginalization for LGBT Jews and our steadfast allies. I have a few answers to these questions, including boasting about how extraordinary our local Jewish Editorial staff is, but I would prefer to give them in person, so if you are up for a conversation please join us.

Meanwhile, read this letter as it has been ‘cut and pasted’ from wjw: “What GLOE works to counter everyday. As a proud member of both the Jewish and GLBT communities in Washington, I was hurt and outraged to find that Washington Jewish Week seems to state that these communities are mutually exclusive. As the director of GLOE, a program of the DCJCC, I know that they are not.

The article “Bridging the gap between faith and sexuality” (WJW, Oct. 20) stated “While the Torah strictly prohibits homosexual behavior” as a fact without question. Such a qualifier does a tremendous disservice to all GLBT Jews and undermines the effort to build a more inclusive community.

With close readings of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, the latest data on the science of sexual orientation, and a sympathetic, accessible, and ecumenical approach to religious faith, Michaelson makes the case that sexual diversity is part of the beauty of nature, and that the recognition of same-sex families will strengthen, not threaten, the values religious people hold dear.  Jay Michaelson’s book, God vs. Gay?: The Religious Case for Equality, discusses the common misconceptions around this supposed biblical prohibition. Since this book, its author, and the surrounding program at the DCJCC were the topic of the article, I found it incongruous that the piece introduced Michaelson’s thesis with a dogmatic interpretation of the Torah. Even more importantly, the biblical imperatives towards love, community, justice, family, and saving a life, both vastly outnumber and outweigh any other verses one might “strictly” quote. WJW is an important voice in our community and the articles, images and words it chooses to print carry significance. That phrase, which betrays a bias toward exclusion, has repercussions throughout the community. I worry your readership will see this factually-stated interpretation and believe it to be true. Further, I am horrified to think of the closeted gay kids in our Jewish community whose parents receive this paper. Seeing an article in a Jewish paper that speaks to a gay and Jewish identity is a rarity for them. When they read beyond the headline, that “who you are is strictly prohibited in the Torah,” it only serves to shame them and to alienate them from Judaism – something GLOE works to counter every day.

Your statement was not just untrue – or even simply an unfortunate misphrasing – but rather, it highlights the bigotry that still exists within the Jewish community, and the lack of value placed on our lives as GLBT Jews. Haley Cohen, GLOE Kurlander Program for GLBT Outreach & Engagement Washington DCJCC”

Queer Jewish Students are invited to Washington D.C. for Leadership Conference

National Union of Jewish LGBTQ Students Conference will begin on Feb 17, 2012 at the American University Hillel, Kay Spiritual Life Center • 4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC! Participate in the annual gathering of queer Jewish students by recommending a leader to attend!

Participating student leaders from Universities across North America began calling this annual gathering a conference of the National Union of Jewish LGBTQQI Students. Naturally, an abbreviation written as NUJLS followed this long-winded title, giving us the name of the conference that we still use today, NUJLS (pronounced "NuJoules" (nüjau(-ə)ls)).

In the fall of 1998 the Office of Student Life at the University of Oregon received a notice in the mail about a student leadership conference aimed at empowering GLBT Jewish leaders. The Dean who received the memo called our local Jewish Student Union, LGBT Alliance and Hillel House to recruit someone to represent the University of Oregon at this conference called NUJLS. I was nominated, grant dollars were dispersed, I flew to Texas, met a dozen new friends and learned about Jewish community leadership. Just like that my career, as I write about in this blog, discovered its roots.

From my perspective one of the many barriers that people experience into the organized Jewish community was eliminated for me. Representing the University of Oregon as a Gay Jewish leader, gave me the opportunity as a young person to easily navigate into the depths of what our Jewish community has to offer.

Each Spring since 1997, Queer Jewish University-level students, as well as our steadfast LGBT allies, have joined together on a selected University campus to learn from each other for a weekend Shabbaton affectionately called NUJLS. Each year NUJLS features speakers, text study, and workshops on topics such as Judaism and queerness, activism, relationships, ethics, coming out, and time to talk about our differing views on how students think about Israel. NUJLS provides an opportunity for student leaders from Universities across North America to build community, network and become more familiar with Jewish life.

This February at American University in Washington D.C. students will be able to hear from galvanizing speakers, share shabbat meals and participate in leadership workshops all the while fostering in the next generation of connected and inspired LGBT Jewish leaders.

As an alumni of NUJLS and now a proud board member I am asking my networks to help me spread the word on campuses and in your greater communities about NUJLS. Learn more!

This is a gender neutral restroom.

We speak about removing barriers for people often at my work in the organized Jewish community. These barriers we speak about can often mean finances but they can easily be much simpler and much more tangible. These barriers can be a physical or mental block that keeps someone in the margins not able to get access to what our Jewish community has to offer.

Here is a barrier that we don’t speak about a lot in the organized Jewish community: restrooms. Many people have no safe places to go to the bathroom. It is true! Ever wonder about the gender of that long-haired person in the men’s room or that short-haired person in the woman’s room? Imagine the looks that they get each time they simply have to go to the bathroom because their gender presentation does not fit the mold of other people around them. Many people avoid public bathrooms altogether because these looks can quickly turn into harassment.

This is the gender neutral restroom sign we posted this past week at the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

A copy of the sign that you can see in this blog is now hanging on our third floor outside of a restroom that was once reserved solely for use by men. A few years ago we put up a sign that simply said “gender neutral” but guests in our building kept referring to it as the “transgender bathroom.” This awkward phrasing that was being used started to create an even more isolating experience for both guests and employees. So together with two of my colleagues we were able to craft this updated sign.

I don’t always know how to honor each one of our community’s micro successes in the LGBT inclusion work that I do. We do not even know yet if this new sign can be seen as a success. I simply hope that this sign and story can present an opportunity to shape the way we can see things differently as a community.

I am aware that we need to share these moments of change to help other communities take similar steps towards greater inclusion. So if you have a suggestion on a success that you have experienced, please share it!

If you are looking for more gender neutral bathroom resources take a look here:

  • Safe2pee – a collective of like-minded activists offering resources to find safe places to use the bathroom and activism to promote gender free public restrooms
  • Toilet Training – a documentary video and collaboration between transgender videomaker Tara Mateik and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Using the stories of people who have been harassed, arrested or beaten for trying to use bathrooms, Toilet Training focuses on bathroom access in public space, in schools, and at work.
  • Toilet Training Toolkit – a companion toolkit full of useful facts and talking points about trans equality and bathroom access
  • Peeing in Peace – a resource guide created by the Transgender Law Center combining basic information about how someone can protect themselves with common sense steps that can be taken to change the way in which an employer, school administrator, business owner, or government official handles bathroom access issues
  • West Coast LGBT Training Institute for the Jewish Community – The purpose of the training is to make sure that LGBT youth, families, and staff are safe and affirmed in all Jewish educational and community settings. Participants will be trained and given the tools and guidance to replicate the trainings in their own communities.

do you have a purple scarf?

Thursday, October 20, 2011 is Spirit Day! Millions of Americans wear purple on Spirit Day as a sign of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth and to speak out against bullying.  Spirit Day was started in 2010 by teenager Brittany McMillan as a response to the young people who had taken their own lives. Observed annually on October 20, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals and celebrities wear purple, which symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.   Getting involved is easy -- participants are asked to simply "go purple" on October 20 as we work to create a world in which LGBT teens are celebrated and accepted for who they are.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 is Spirit Day! Please wear just a touch of purple to support young people dealing with bullying tomorrow. Sure, it is a bit weird to randomly wear purple as an adult... but, as Dr. Seuss famously said, “life’s a little weird…”. Please go with it by finding an old purple scarf or hat and put it on… By wearing purple tomorrow you are telling young people in our communities that you are a safe person to speak with about their experiences with bullying…

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LGBT Book Readings at the Jewish Community Library

Keep Your Wives Away from Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires, A presentation by Miryam Kabakov will be held on Thursday, November 17 at 7pm.

Reconciling queerness with religion has always been an enormous challenge. When the religion is Orthodox Judaism, the task is even more daunting. The anthology Keep Your Wives Away from Them, edited by Miryam Kabakov, takes on that challenge by giving voice to lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jewish women who were once silenced—and effectively rendered invisible—by their faith. It tells the story of those who have come out, who are still closeted, living double lives, or struggling to maintain an integrated "single life" in relationship to traditional Judaism.

On Tuesday, December 13 at 7pm join Noach Dzmura, editor of Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community along with contributors Chav Doherty, Martin Rawlings-Fein, Jhos Singer, and Max Strassfeld in conversation.

How can transgender people live pious Jewish lives when many of their significant life choices might be considered “un-kosher”? How might parenting be complicated, or perhaps, enhanced, when one parent has changed sex? How does it feel to be in “men only” ritual space when you were once defined by your community as female? Balancing on the Mechitza is an anthology by activists, theologians, and scholars, both transgender and non-transgender allies, who share their interpretation of Jewish texts about ambiguous bodies, as well as their sacred and secular stories

                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                               Both readings are free and open to the public at the San Francisco Bureau of Jewish Education (BJE) Jewish Community Library. The library is located at 1835 Ellis Street, San Francisco, 94115, between Scott and Pierce on the campus of the Jewish Community High School. There is free garage parking at the entrance on Pierce Street between Ellis and Eddy. For more information contact Allison at (415) 567-3327, ext 703 or ajgreen@bjesf.org.

Dr. Frank Kameny, Jewish Gay Rights Pioneer, Dies At 86

Dr. Frank Kameny lived many of his 86-years as an out activist, leader and hero. It is with only a blessed form of irony that he left us today, on National Coming Out Day. May Frank’s memory be for a blessing. To understand our LGBT American history please get to know a bit more about his story. Our history and our civil rights seemed to be paired perfectly with Frank Kameny’s once radical notion that we have a right in this country to stand up for, “First Class Citizenship for Homosexuals.” Right on, brother.

Some of Frank Kameny's z"l donated picket signs and buttons are on display as part of an exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum where they are on loan from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Some of Frank Kameny's z"l donated picket signs and buttons are on display as part of an exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum where they are on loan from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The signs read, "First Class Citizenship for Homosexuals" and "Discrimination Against Homosexuals Is As Immoral As Discrimination Against Negros and Jews."

Dr. Frank Kameny marching with the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C. in 1970

Dr. Frank Kameny z"l marching with the Mattachine Society of Washington D.C.

First coined by US Politcal candidate Frank Kameny z"l in 1968, someone else added the word "so" to the original graffiti. Perhaps a reflection of that person's opinion on how far gays have come since 1968... Thank you Frank.

First coined by US Politcal candidate Frank Kameny z"l in 1968, someone else added the word "so" to the original graffiti. Perhaps a reflection of that person's opinion on how far gays have come since 1968... Thank you Frank.

Outing Rabbi Eger

In November 2008 Rabbi Eger was named one of the FORWARD FIFTY by the national Jewish newspaper the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the 50 most influential Jewish leaders of the year along with Rahm Emmanuel, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sarah Silverman. In 2010 Rabbi Eger was named by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the Sisterhood 50. One of the fifty most influential women rabbis in America. Now she is listed as October 11, 2011 Coming Out Day LGBT leader.

Rabbi Denise Eger believes that activism is an important part of her rabbinate. She is now the historical leader recognized for the 2011 Coming Out Day. Mazel Tov, Rabbi Eger!

In California, we are fortunate that we have become the first state in the nation to require public schools to add lessons about our gay and trans history to social studies classes. Yet, this only happened after Governor Jerry Brown signed this landmark bill a few months ago created by LGBT Jewish leader Mark Leno (learn more).

Therefore because our LGBT history is not being taught and talked about much, the month of October has become LGBT History Month. The goal of this month is to send a consistent message about the vital importance of recognizing and exploring the role of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in American history.

Starting in 2006, a nonprofit group called Equality Forum has promoted 1 of 31 chosen LGBT History Month Hero’s or Icons each day in October. Throughout the short history of this tradition 18 Jewish leaders have been recognized. These LGBT Jewish Icons are: Susan Sontag z”l*, Annie LeibovitzLeonard Bernstein z”l, Larry KramerLowell SelvinBarney FrankDavid GeffenHarvey Milk z”l, Maurice SendakLeslie FeinbergSuze OrmanJoan NestleMagnus Hirschfeld z”l, Allen Ginsberg z”l, Tony KushnerHarvey FiersteinStephen Sondheim and Aaron Copland z”l.

This year marks the 6th Anniversary of this work by the Equality Forum and today is the unveiling of the 19th Jewish LGBT leader to be listed. Today, on Coming Out Day, which falls annually on October 11, Los Angeles based Rabbi Denise Eger has been chosen as the LGBT hero or icon of the day. Her bio and story can be seen here.

Mazel Tov, Rabbi Eger! Thank you for being an inspiration to so many people throughout both our Jewish and LGBT worlds!

A selection of the 19 LGBT Jewish icons that have been honored and recognized by Equality Forum among the 186 LGBT Icons choosen since 2006.

In 2006, Equality Forum began providing content, promotion and resources for LGBT History Month. Now, LGBT History Month celebrates the achievements of 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Icons. This is a selection of the 19 LGBT Jewish icons that have been honored and recognized by Equality Forum among the 186 LGBT Icons choosen since 2006.

* There are several traditional Jewish honorifics for the dead which are used interchangeably when naming and speaking of the deceased. The most common honorific is translated from the Hebrew into English to mean, of blessed memory. In Hebrew this honorific is written זיכרונה לברכהזיכרונו לברכה  (Hebrew transliteration is zikhrono livrakha/zikhronah livrakha). As seen frequently on this blog the use of this honor is further abbreviated to the first two letters of the Hebrew transliteration words, z”l or the first two letters of the Hebrew wordsז״ל

Will you join me and pledge to go purple in support of LGBT youth?

I Support #SpiritDay

Last fall, a young person named Brittany McMillan wanted to do something about the LGBT teens who died by suicide. So she put a call out via a social network for people to wear purple on October 20th in support of LGBT teens and called it spirit day. She thought that only a few hundred at most would wear purple. She never imagined that thousands would respond by wearing purple. But her idea went viral quickly. The cast of Glee dressed up in purple as well as a few of the hosts on The View. Even Anderson Cooper and Dr. Phil got in the purple spirit of spirit day. It was inspiring to see a young person have so much impact.

This year, Brittany is asking the world again to dress in purple. She hopes that the LGBT teens who walk into their classrooms on October 20 to see their teachers and classmates wearing purple will give them a feeling of hope. Again, this year I’m joining Brittany on spirit day by wearing purple. It is such an easy way to help bring hope to young people in our San Francisco Bay Area community. I hope that you also choose to pledge to go purple on October 20 too. Then I hope you will put a call out to your synagogue, school, organization or company to observe Spirit Day as well. Do me a favor, email me at work {lisaf @sfjcf.org} or tag me on facebook with pictures of you dressed in purple so I can continue to create a poster of how our Jewish community dresses up to support LGBT causes.

Together, we can show LGBT teens that they are supported. By pledging to wear purple on October 20, LGBT teens can find you, remember who you are and if they ever need someone to trust in coming out they know you can be a safe advocate and friend to connect with.

What is Spirit Day? How can you celebrate LGBT Teens in your Jewish community? Learn more.

During a gathering at the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) LGBT Advocate, Jessica Trubowitch, with Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) speaks with another proud LGBT San Francisco Jewish leader, Rebecca Prozan!

During a gathering at the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) LGBT Advocate, Jessica Trubowitch, with Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) speaks with another proud LGBT San Francisco Jewish leader, Rebecca Prozan!

Me with another proud 2010 Spirit Day supporter, LGBT Jewish leader, Jamie Wolfe at the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum!

Me with another proud 2010 Spirit Day supporter, LGBT Jewish leader, Jamie Wolfe at the San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum!

Top 10 LGBT Websites and Blogs

rosie says we can blog itmy new flatmate works in pr and marketing and already knows that i am a geek with social media stats. in his natural kindness he sent me this interesting list of the most popular LGBT websites and blogs. the list was compiled in june 2011 by a group called compete.com in partnership with a media database group called cision. they ranked the sites listed below by unique visitors per month (uvpm).

if you are also a social media geek or if you simply want to know where folks are going to get their lgbt related news and gossip take a look…

  1. Advocate.com 290,315 uvpm
  2. AfterEllen.com 203,924 uvpm
  3. Towleroad 200,477 uvpm
  4. Queerty 196,806 uvpm
  5. AfterElton.com 145,255 uvpm
  6. The Bilerico Project 78,459 uvpm
  7. homorazzi.com 77,342 uvpm
  8. gay.com 71,360 uvpm
  9. Outsports 68,573 uvpm
  10. GayGamer.net 56,550 uvpm
if you’re looking for a blog on how to bake the perfect challah, how to properly observe a jewish holiday, like yom kippur which begins this evening, or how to how to date a homosexual femme jewess, i must confess, that i don’t have a top ten list of bloggers for you based on uvpm stats. i can highly recommend this leading transdenominational jewish website for the most comprehensive jewish information… tell me, friends, do you know where i can find reliable uvpm stats on jewish blogs?

gays have kids too

During these days between the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, Jews are told to reflect on what really matters to us. So here it goes, one thing that really matters to me is continually bringing the stories and realities of everyday LGBT Jewish leaders into the mainstream. Many LGBT folks don’t always have the big life concepts mapped out for them. By the way, when I write “them”, I do mean me as well.

I often look to the experiences of my family to help me navigate this world but a few things don’t always translate. Some translations on expectations and roles get lost on me. Not so much because of discrimination any more, but more often the nuance of difference. I work to find community and friendships with other LGBT Jewish leaders, in part because they model one of the many ways that I might too have a healthy same-sex relationship, how to raise children, how to present the gender identity that works for me, or how to juggle the demands of chosen family versus biological family.

Something else that matters to me is a love of democracy and the drama of politics. So when I saw this ad yesterday, pairing my love of politics with a story that brings a local queer Jewish family into the mainstream – I had to link to it. So in honor of speaking out to what matters to me during the Jewish High Holiday’s as well as embracing October as LGBT History Month please take a look at this 33 second ad featuring our LGBT lives having mainstream visibility. The ad features a gay and Jewish former city supervisor, Bevan Dufty running for mayor of San Francisco, proudly introducing himself in his most important identity role: a father.

Related Stories

  • AutostraddleBevan Dufty Reminds Us Gay Candidates Have Kids Too (link)
  • I Want to be a (Gay) Dad, Celebrating LGB Parents (link)
  • Queer Landia, Gay SF Hopeful features Daughter in New Ad (link)
  • Towlroad, Gay SF Mayoral Hopeful Bevan Dufty Features Daughter (link)
  • The Stir, Gay Candidate for Mayor ‘Exploits’ Kid By Admitting She Exists (link)
  • David Mixner Blog, Impressions (link)
  • Politco, Ben Smith’s Frontiers of Gay Politics (link)
  • Gay Politcs, Bevan Dufty in Someplace New (link)
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian, Bevan Dufty loves MUNI (link)

sweetness follows

we of course, all witnessed the seas of political activists empowered to change their worlds this past year. as we approach the jewish high holidays this evening, i stop for a moment to revisit some of the more local advances and news that i witnessed this past year.

overall folks within my community seemed to mostly agree with natalie portman in not wanting anything to do with john galliano. we wrestled through a few of the more challenging conversations with courtesy from tony kushner’s views on israel to ballot measures seeking to outlaw circumcision. we saw the demise of don’t ask don’t tell celebrated in the streets and hardly had time to pay attention to a new state law created by jewish gay leader, mark leno that requires lgbt history be taught in california textbooks. within a more hyper-local perspective we celebrated everything out and proud about gertrude stein, marched to honor 30-years of AIDS activism, watched allen ginsberg howl on-screen and sang our good-byes to both elizabeth taylor and debbie friedman.

still thinking locally, it has been a great year for many of our outstanding lgbt jewish leaders to shine. just to name two of the many deserving leaders, roberta achtenberg, was appointed as the first lesbian to the federal civil rights post and bevan dufty, whom if elected in november, would be san francisco’s first gay (and possibly third jewish) mayor. while we still can’t beat the reputation of states like new york that decided everyone can get hitched there this year we did just learn that our dear city of san francisco did not loose first place in hosting the highest concentration of gay and lesbian couples over the past decade.

at my synagogue, congregation sha’ar zahav, i participated with 40 other members in the year of civil discourse and learned together through the training how to disagree with people i respect but don’t always want to listen to. on a even more personal note i moved once again back into the castro.

as i am approaching my own sense of sweetness on this last day of the Jewish month of elul 5771, i pause to remember that not everyone’s life is so full of honey right now. this morning i watched with sadness as alyssa rodemeyer, the sister of jamey rodemeyer, discussed the continued bullying of her late brother after he took his own life this last week at the age of 14. it made me realize that we still have a lot of work to do together. i look forward to seeing what sweetness we can create together in community in 5772.

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Gay Ugandan refugee finds home in Jewish Bay Area

Avi Rose

Yasher Koach and Todah Rabah to Avi Rose & Jewish Family and Children Services of the East Bay as well as all of those that were involved.

Do you remember when a few Americans got involved in launching a political movement to eliminate homosexuality in Uganda? How about when The Rachel Maddow Show covered this anti-gay hysteria with the catchy title, “Uganda Be Kidding Me“? Do you remember learning about the murder of David Kato after a Ugandan media outlet published his name and photograph along with 99 additional Ugandan leaders with the corresponding title, “Top 100 Homosexuals – Hang Them”? (read more)

It was within this mishigas that Bay Area LGBT Jewish community leader, Avi Rose with Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay (JFCS) began to take action. Now, Danny Dyson, a Ugandan refugee who gained asylum status based on all of this anti-gay persecution, is living here in the Bay Area.

What’s next? Gay refugees settling in our community from Iran? Yes! I understand more LGBT folks will be joining us from both Iran and Uganda soon thanks again to Avi Rose, JFCS, a few philanthropists and the Direction of Neil Grungras with the Organization for Refuge Asylum and Migration (ORAM). These amazing leaders and advocates truly help make our Jewish community shine…

Celebrating life, legacy and 5 foot tall lesbians

Each time I walk by one of the many billboards across town proudly showcasing a rather butch-presenting 5′ tall Gertrude Stein, I have a little self-loving-pride moment. I have a feeling that I am not the only 5’3″ Jewish woman who finds the sight similarly validating. But sadly, this spectacular pride-filled San Francisco Summer of Stein will come to a close at both the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and the Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM) on September 6 (event listing)… So, folks, go to the exhibitions soon or you will miss it… Need a little nudge to get there? Take a look at a few shots of folks in our community who have already enjoyed a little Parisian summer time fun…

Two museums, two Gertrude Stein related institutions, one Evening in Gay Paris an event which invited the LGBT community to our evocation of 1920's Paris. These photobooth photos seen below are on a backdrop of wallpaper from the home that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas shared.

Two museums, two Gertrude Stein related institutions, one Evening in Gay Paris an event which invited the LGBT community to our evocation of 1920's Paris. These photobooth photos seen below are on a backdrop of wallpaper from the home that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas shared.

Howard Steiermann enjoying the photoboothTwo museums, two Gertrude Stein related institutions, one Evening in Gay Paris an event which invited the LGBT community to our evocation of 1920's Paris. These photobooth photos seen below are on a backdrop of wallpaper from the home that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas shared.

Don’t let the summer go by without experiencing how the City of San Francisco is celebrating the life, legacy and lesbianism of two Jewish icons, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas on view now through Sept. 6 (learn more). Continue to get to know who makes up this incredible queer Jewish community by tagging yourself and your friends in these and more of the photos from the summer on facebook.

where is harel skaat staying when he visits san francisco?

After overhearing the music of Harel Skaat flooding through my office wall all afternoon my colleague in the office next door poked his head into my office to tell me, “his music is great…” I smiled and asked if he would join me at his concert in Palo Alto (details) but before he responded he paused giving me a rare and almost-shy-smile. He then quickly asked, “do you know if he or his boyfriend need a nice place to stay in the Castro while they are in town? I have a place in the Castro…”

So of course, I wanted to see why such a fine gentleman would be so courteous to offer up his home to a couple of strangers. That is when I learned that the boyfriend of Harel Skaat is the Israeli model, Idan Roll. I stopped wondering and just responded with a smirk….

Idan Roll and Harel Skaat

I don’t know where Idan and Harel are staying (or if they are coming to the Bay Area together) but I do know that all before the age of 30, Harel Skaat has become one of the leading and most sought-after male-vocalists in Israel. His Yemenite and Iraqi Jewish roots formed his distinctive sound within a particular genre of pop music and his work in the music industry has received all possible Israeli accolades. He has also received attention in the New York Times (story) not only for his musical talents but his attention to fashion too. Sadly, Harel’s visit to the Bay will be short this time with limited performances but you can keep track of the whereabouts of this gay israeli musical icon on his website (link).

Interested in a comp ticket to schmooze over cocktails while celebrating the remarkable life and legacy of Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein?

An Evening in Gay Paris!

 

I hope that you have been able to participate in this spectacular summer of Stein. If you have not yet seen the exhibitions at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) , no more excuses folks: you have got to get out and see how San Francisco is all about celebrating the life, work and art-centered-legacy of the once-local Jewish Lesbian, Gertrude Stein, z”l.

 

Here is your chance. Via my work at the Jewish Community Federation I have one comp ticket to give away to Thursday’s art-filled-LGBT-centered-celebration called, An Evening in Gay Paris. Interested in being my plus one? Let me know and I will enter you into our raffle for the ticket.

 

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