Back in October I featured an Op-Ed by Orthodox Rabbi Steven Burg titled “There’s no place for bullying in God’s world”. As the international director of NCSY, the youth program of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Burg’s Op-Ed provides an important counter-balance to the public anti-LGBT voices of other clergy in his sect. I have since learned that the Rabbi’s very meaningful contribution is only one of many efforts by diverse Jewish faith communities to speak as people of faith in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) youth and in opposition to bullying.
Last month Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Keshet and Nehirim joined together to launch the “Strength Through Community” project, a Jewish response to LGBTQ youth in crisis. The project brings together the many ways these Jewish organizations have begun to respond to the bullying faced by many LGBTQ teens.
“The energy in the Jewish community around this issue is inspiring – rabbis giving sermons, queer Jews sharing their stories for the fist time, synagogues posting GLBT Safe Zone stickers – and a clear rebuke to the idea that the religious community does not support GLBT members,” said Bonnie Rosenbaum, Deputy Director of Communications and Planning at Keshet.
At the project’s center is an online video campaign highlighting stories by members and leaders of Jewish organizations to provide messages of support grounded in faith. The messages are guided by principles developed with the support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and have received over 9,000 views since their launch.
The project is also promoting “Do Not Stand Idly By“, a Jewish community pledge launched by Keshet stating that bullying of our LGBTQ youth will not be tolerated. Over 9,200 individuals and organizations have already signed the pledge.
Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives
As members of a tradition that sees each person as created in the divine image, we respond with anguish and outrage at the spate of suicides brought on by homophobic bullying and intolerance. We hereby commit to ending homophobic bullying or harassment of any kind in our synagogues, schools, organizations, and communities. As a signatory, I pledge to speak out when I witness anyone being demeaned for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. I commit myself to do whatever I can to ensure that each and every person in my community is treated with dignity and respect.
* Happy Hannukah from Heschel GSA!
* Shattering the silence surrounding anti-LGBTQ violence
* Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Steven Burg says “There’s no place for bullying in God’s world”
From the websites of participating organizations:
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah is one of the oldest and largest faith based LGBTQ action and community organizations in the country. Serving as New York’s synagogue for the LGBTQ Jewish community, and with an active social justice and educational program, CBST is a renowned leader of progressive religion and LGBTQ Jewish issues.
Keshet is a national grassroots organization dedicated to creating full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jews in Jewish life. We offer resources, training, and technical assistance for creating change in Jewish communities nationwide.
Nehirim (“Lights”) is the leading national provider of programs for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Jews, partners, and allies. Our retreats and other programs transform lives, and inspire GLBT Jews to be agents for change in their home communities. Nehirim is an independent, nonprofit, and nondenominational organization which celebrates the gifts of Judaism and sexual & gender diversity.
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