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Gay President of Jewish Youth Group Thanks His Support System

This post comes from Hannah Henschel, HRC's Jewish Organization Equality Index intern:

As participation in HRC’s Jewish Organization Equality Index (JOEI) grows, the creators of the project are always excited to see great examples of LGBT inclusion programs occurring within Jewish organizations.  A few days ago we received news of an amazing speech made by the proudly gay president of United Synagogue Youth (USY), the youth movement arm of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.  The speech was made at their International Convention, which ran from December 25-29 in Philadelphia.

In his speech, Daniel talks about the type of bullying he faced while attending public school, which made his coming out process difficult.  But Daniel found support from USY. Realizing I had attended high school with USY’s president, Daniel Kaplan, I contacted Daniel learn more about USY’s impact on him as an LGBT Jew.  In one of the questions I had for Daniel, I asked him to tell me more about the importance of the community USY had given him.  He stated: ”… once people find organizations that accept them, they in turn find a family that they can be a part of, a kehila with whom they can share their life.” This family-like community led him to eventually come-out to his friends at USY, who have continued to support of him as President of USY.  

Daniel also gave thanks to USY for letting youth members lead programming for the organization.  With a say in the programming process, they were able to become proactive against issues that face Jewish LGBT teens through creating inclusive programming or leading LGBT discussions.  The impact USY has had on Daniel has made him who he is not only within his religion but also who he is living as in his day-to-day life.

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