[from Keshet] Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives
This year, the themes of Sukkot - both the fragility of human life and the communal strength of a truly open tent - have an especially painful resonance. I am sure you share my sadness and outrage that in the past month five teenage boys took their own lives due to homophobic bullying and harassment (and another in July). The loss of a single life is cause for heartbreak. Five teen suicides in just one month, however, is a crisis. This is a wake-up call that something must change and that the Jewish community must not remain silent.
Please see the pledge we are circulating below and sign on if you wish to make this public commitment. We've also included a list of Ten Things You Can Do Today to Strengthen Our Community. Let's send a message to everyone in our communities that we will not stand by in the face of suffering and injustice. Our goal is to gather 18,000 pledges by the end of the calendar year; we will publish the intial signatories on October 11, National Coming Out Day.This is a pledge we are asking of all Jewish community members, youth and adults, so please forward widely.
Executive Director, Keshet
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.
The Adventure Rabbi Program Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado The Anshe Emet Synagogue, Chicago, IL
Bay Area Masorti Beth Chayim Chadashim, Los Angeles, CA The Bronfman Youth Fellowships (BYFI)
California Faith for Equality Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR)
Cleveland Jewish LGBTQ2A Inclusion Project Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston Congregation Am Tikva, Boston, MA Congregation Bet Haverim, Atlanta, GA Congregation Beth Ahavah, Philadelphia, PA Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn, NY Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, New York, NY Congregation Beth El, Berkeley, California Congregation Beth El Binah, Dallas, TX
Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, New York, NY Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood, CA Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, San Francisco, CA The Dobkin Family Foundation Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association (GLYDSA) Gay and Lesbian Outreach and Engagement Program (GLOE)/Washington DC Jewish
Community Center Hebrew College He'bro Hazon Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life Institute for Judaism & Sexual Orientation, Hebrew Union College-JIR InterfaithFamily.com Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center JALSA - The Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance JESNA - The Jewish Education Service of North America JewishBoston.com Jewish Communal Leadership Program, University of Michigan The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston Jewish Council for Public Affairs Jewish Council on Urban Affairs The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group, London, UK Jewish Gay Network of Michigan Jewish Milestones The Jewish Multiracial Network Jewish Organizing Initiative Jewish Outreach Institute Jewish Reconstructionist Federation Jewish Transitions Jews United for Justice Joshua Venture Group Judaism Your Way, Denver, CO Jumpstart Just Congregations of the Union for Reform Judaism JQ International JQYouth Kehilat Hadar, New York, NY Kehilla Community Synagogue, Piedmont, CA Kehilla School Kolenu, Seattle's Young Adult GLBTQ Group LGBT Alliance of the Jewish Community Federation, San Francisco, CA Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation Ma'yan Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh Mechon Hadar Moishe House Boston: Kavod Jewish Social Justice House The Morningstar Foundation The Natan Fund
Nathan Cummings Foundation
Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue, Jamaica Plain, MA
Nehirim: GLBT Jewish Culture and Spirituality New Jersey's Lesbian & Gay Havurah North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) Orthodykes NY Progressive Jewish Alliance Rabbinical Assembly Rabbinical School of Hebrew College The Rainbow Center, Atlanta, GA RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Repair the World ROI Community Romemu
Ruth Allen Ziegler Foundation The Samuel Bronfman Foundation Shalom Amigos, Mexico ShefaNetwork: The Conservative/Masorti Movement Dreaming from Within Storahtelling SVARA TBS Keshet, Temple Beth Shalom, Needham, MA Trembling Before G-d Outreach Project The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) University of Washington Hillel UpStart Bay Area A Wider Bridge Women of Reform Judaism Zeek Media, Inc. Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies
Ten Things You Can Do Today to Strengthen Our Community
1. Find truth in the Torah. Ask your rabbi to give a Dvar Torah (or write your own) about the tragic events of the past month and our responsibility as Jews to speak out and work to end homophobia and transphobia. Here's a beautiful example from Rabbi David Mitchell, Radlett & Bushey Reform Synagogue, UK.
2. Speak out. The next time you hear someone say "That's so gay," tell that person why those words are hurtful and can have disastrous consequences.
4. Take action for equal rights. Contact your legislator to support ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that prevents people from being fired or discriminated against at work for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
5. Keep youth safe and supported. If you are a Jewish educator or administrator at an educational institution, provide training and resources for your staff on how to create safe, inclusive spaces for GLBT and questioning youth. Help start a Gay-Straight Alliance.
6. Come out as an ally. October 11 is National Coming Out Day. If you are a straight Jewish community leader, let people know that you are an ally to GLBT people and keep the messages of support coming.
7. Come out. If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and/or queer, come out and keep coming out. This simple act will help others.
8. Talk to your children. Middle and high school students witness homophobic and transphobic bullying and teasing every day. Tell your children you support them and that all kids deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
9. Tell your story. Whether you are queer or a straight ally, upload a video to the It Gets Better Project and share your story with young people who need to hear your message. Visit the Make it Better Project to see powerful stories about what young queers and allies are doing right now to improve their schools and communities.
10. Seek support/give support. If you or someone you know is struggling with issues around sexual orientation and/or gender identity, know that you are not alone. Crisis support is available 24/7 through The Trevor Project, 1.866-4.U.TREVOR.