August 23, 2023

Building a Cohort Dedicated to LGBTQ+ Inclusion

Sharon Zucker Director of Welcoming and Inclusion

I’ve learned a lot in the five months since I wrote my first blog post, “All Are Welcoming and Valued, as part of the new Welcoming and Inclusion Initiative at Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest. During this time, Federation professionals and lay leaders alike have stressed the importance of our role as community conveners. Federation is in a unique space to be able to bring Jewish people and organizations together across religious affiliations and denominations. As we continue to look for opportunities to convene thought partners in the community, we are moving forward in the development of strategies and initiatives that respond to specific needs of both individuals and institutions in Greater MetroWest. 

One such need that has been expressed is the “what’s next” in terms of LGBTQ+ inclusion and belonging in our synagogues and partner agencies. Some institutions are grappling with real instances of conflict around gender identity and physical spaces. Others are looking to move their Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) strategies forward. We understand that our partner institutions are looking for ways to do LGBTQ+ inclusion work in a formal and curated way. To this end, we are excited to partner with Keshet, a national non-profit organization working for the full equality of all LGBTQ+ Jews and their families in Jewish life.  

Our Federation will serve as the anchor institution and will be able to host up to 12 partner organizations (synagogues or agencies) as part of a Keshet Shivyon Cohort learning program. Each partner organization will identify four to six community members – including clergy, lay leaders, educators, and others – to serve on their respective task force. This model will allow the organizations to work in partnership with other institutions within Greater MetroWest, while creating a strategy to facilitate change in their respective synagogue or agency.  

According to the Keshet website, “Shivyon is a year-long, cohort-based project of training, consultation, and learning. Keshet will work with each participating organization to build or support an LGBTQ+ equality working group.” The kickoff launch event and day of learning will be held in Whippany on Monday, January 22, and we look forward to seeing what progress each of our partner institutions is able to make over the course of the calendar year!  

If you are part of a synagogue or Jewish agency in Greater MetroWest and would like additional information on how to join this Shivyon Cohort, please reach out to me at [email protected] 

Photo courtesy of Keshet