On Thursday November 7th, Rabbi Ora, Gillian Jackson, and Judith Jacobs joined congregations and Jewish organizations from all over Metro Detroit to learn how to be more inclusive and how to advocate for LGBTQ communities. The training was led by Keshet, a national organization working for the full equality of LGBTQ Jews and families. Emily Saltzman, dynamic leader from Keshet, was joined by representatives from Nextgen Detroit Pride and Stand with Trans. The training provided a framework for understanding LGBTQ core concepts such as sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Participants also learned about the history of LGBTQ inclusion in Jewish communities and the challenges that LGBTQ-identifying people face in our culture. The seminar concluded with an opportunity for each organization to form goals to improve its LGBTQ advocacy.
The training in Michigan grew out of a 2018 survey, the “State of Equality Index,” that reviewed areas of the US for positive policies supporting LGBTQ equality. Michigan scored as an area of high priority; this means we have many areas of law, health and safety measures, and religious recognition that must be updated to include protections for LGBTQ individuals.
As our blog about welcoming remarked, Judaism has a rich history of gender diversity and inclusion. However, modern Jewish culture still has a long way to go until our organizations make LGBTQ individuals feel safe, welcomed, and respected. Keshet suggested that organizations provide leadership on LGBTQ inclusion through programming, policy, and culture. AARC has taken steps to improve our organization on all of these fronts.
The AARC action plan includes the formation of a LGBTQ inclusion policy, a new LGBTQ welcoming section of our website, visible LGBTQ welcoming signs at our welcome table, and the organization of a new annual Pride Shabbat. If you would like to take part in the planning or implementation of any or all of these new initiatives, please email me or speak with Rabbi Ora. We look forward to hearing from you!