HRC Blog

Cupid’s Arrow Doesn’t Exclude: LGBT Inclusion in the Jewish Community

HeartsThe following post comes from HRC Jewish Organization Equality Index Intern Sabrina Katz: 

Visit the website of your local synagogue, JCC or campus JSA this time of year, and you will likely find an announcement for Valentine’s Day events. These events are hosted for single Jews looking for love and for Jewish couples looking to celebrate theirs. What you probably won’t find in these announcements is any notice that same-sex couples or LGBT individuals are welcome to attend these events.

Although many of these organizations may want to be welcoming (or think they already are), by omitting a statement welcoming LGBT individuals or not providing an LGBT-specific event, they are alienating the approximately seven percent  of the Jewish community that identifies as LGBT.  A great number of these organizations may not think this specification is necessary, believing that LGBT individuals already know they are welcome at these types of events.

Studies have shown that many organizations which regard themselves as inclusive are not regarded as such by the LGBT community unless they include explicitly inclusive language.  Because LGBT Jews are unsure of where they are welcome, they are less likely to attend events.  The less they attend events within the Jewish community, the more alienated they feel and the more likely they are to abandon this community and Judaism as a whole - a tragedy in light of the dwindling numbers of active Jewish community members.

The goal of HRC’s Jewish Organization Equality Index is to show Jewish organizations how explicitly welcoming LGBT individuals into their organizations, both through policies and programming, has not only the ability to increase the participation of the LGBT Jewish population, but also to foster an American Jewish community truer to its value of kavod habriyot (the Jewish value that every person deserves to be regarded with dignity and respect.)

Valentine’s Day has become a time for the celebration of preexisting relationships and the hope for new ones to flourish.  Cupid’s arrow does not exclude, and neither should organizations that do similar work.  

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