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Queer Jewish Kibbutz Leads to Plenty of Kvetching + Mishegas

It may have taken god just six days to create the universe, but he’s gonna have to be more forgiving to the human running queer Jewish groups: They need more than two days to reach a consensus.

After a recent round of mergers that consolidated four leading groups into two (in May, the National Union of Jewish LGBTQ Students merged with Nehirim; in June, Jewish Mosaic merged with Keshet), activists from the groups and other interested parties (rabbis and congregation leaders, youth group chiefs) met late last month in Berkeley to “forge a strategic vision to inspire and guide our actions over the next three years.” Okay! So how did the National LGBT Jewish Professionals Retreat go? The Forward relays:

The incentive for all the groups to arrive at a shared vision was in the room: The primary funders of this work would prefer to be solicited from fewer organizations with a common agenda. That did not happen. After days of wide-ranging discussions, organizers Gregg Drinkwater and Idit Klein hoped participants would be able to articulate common goals in one final four-hour session. Instead, the conversation broke down, as many participants expressed a need for more time to build relationships. But time had run out.

The idea that four organizations that had never before met face to face would emerge from a three-day event with a common vision and full-fledged action plan proved optimistic, and spoke to the inexperience of the organizers in building a movement (as opposed to building an organization or campaign).

Whatever happened to just reclining, eating, and being merry? To next year in Jerusalem! Or Berkeley.

(And can I get a mazel for squeezing in three Yiddish words into the headline? And making a sex joke with a dreidel? No?)

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  • Yehudah

    Looking at the list of attendees, I find it sad that a majority of these people are the “face” and “leadership” of GLBT Judaism. Sigh.

  • J

    @ Yehuda: hmmm, who do you suggest should be leading the gey Jews? not that Im saying youre wrong – just curious.

  • Aaron Weininger

    I was proud to participate in the first Jewish LGBT movement building convening. This was an historic event, bringing together dozens of Jewish LGBT leaders from across the country and beyond. Thanks to the vision and generosity of Lynn Schusterman, who recognizes the imperative for the full embrace of LGBT Jews and our allies, we initiated conversations and shared ideas. Such convenings do not bring us to a final destination, but open the door to consider new possibilities and unexpected challenges. As the first openly gay student to be admitted to the rabbinical school of the Jewish Theological Seminary, I am humbled and excited by the path ahead. The work is great, and it doesn’t wrap up with clarity in five years of school or forty-eight hours of convening. I am hopeful that the convening will serve as a launch pad for future projects that engage these issues, allowing us to be real with the challenges and eager to encounter them and one another with courage, conviction, and compassion. In so doing, I commit myself to our tradition’s understanding that God never ceases God’s work in renewing creation, and asks humanity to partner in that ongoing endeavor.

  • Yehudah

    J: I don’t know either, but baring a few good institutions that seemed to attend this even (maybe the use of “majority” was a bad choice), the list read like a whose who of holier-then-though gay jews. There is an entire untapped segment of gay jews that are sadly turned off by seeing these kind of folks anointing themselves at the helm of this. How do you propose to get them involved?

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