I had an amazing time today at my first ever JOFA Conference. For those of you who don’t know, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance has been working to “expand the spiritual, ritual, intellectual and political opportunities for women within the framework of halakha” since 1997. I had the honor to run a program for 27 middle school students encouraging them to listen to their inner voice to help find the right answer for how they should live and act.
The best part of the day, however, was a lunchtime discussion on the inclusion of gay and lesbian Orthodox Jews in the Orthodox community. It was such a great idea to link these connected causes aimed at bringing marginalized Orthodox Jews closer to the center of the Jewish communal structure.
While it was clear that a lot of education and work needs to be done (both to support women like Rabba Sara Hurwitz and to help gays and lesbians to become openly accepted in our synagogues and communities), it was such a good feeling to have a room of over 100 people discussing the joint future of these two groups.
I’m proud to be a heterosexual male who considers himself to be a feminist and a gay activist. JOFA is a great forum for Orthodox men and women to join together under the common cause of Feminism.
What our community needs is a similar forum for straights and gay to come together under a common cause of inclusion and equality in the Orthodox community. It happened today (sort of) for about an hour, but we need something that can be year-round and include thousands of people.
We need a Gay-Straight Alliance for the Orthodox Jewish community as a whole. There’s probably a better name for something like this, but we need a way to spread the message that many people in the Orthodox community want their synagogues to be safe, warm and welcoming places to same-sex families, and homosexual singles. This is the next step towards many more advances down the road.
I’d love to hear in the comments section ideas for how something like this could come to fruition.
(*Note: The comments section is meant for discussion, not hateful speech. I will gladly approve comments of people who disagree with me, but I will delete comments that express hatred towards any group of people. Thank you.)