Oct 5, 2010

[from Keshet] Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives

Keshet - Working for in the full inclusion of GLBT Jews in Jewish life

Dear Rabbi,

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. 



Idit Klein, Keshet Executive Director

Idit Klein

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.


Campaign launched by Keshet in partnership with:

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
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Institute for Judaism & Sexual Orientation, Hebrew Union College-JIR
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
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
Just Congregations of the Union for Reform Judaism
JQ International
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
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

Ruth Allen Ziegler Foundation
The Samuel Bronfman Foundation
Shalom Amigos, Mexico
ShefaNetwork: The Conservative/Masorti Movement Dreaming from Within
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

TenThingsTen 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.

3. Make your support visible. Post a Jewish GLBT Safe Zone sticker in your synagogue, classroom, camp bunk, office, or website.

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.

 Sign Now!

Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives

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