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Hillel Grows Up: Helping GBLTQ Students

This from the Jewish Forward (12/26/07).

Hillel, the Foundation which works with Jewish college students on campuses around the country, is growing up. Recognizing that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (and queer and question) Jewish students exist and need Jewish support and services on college campuses,
Last week, Hillel’s president announced the completion of a guide that aims to help its staff members welcome “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning” students. The 186-page resource was written and edited by a largely gay-and-lesbian-identified group of Hillel professionals, several of whom have been discreetly meeting for years…
“I think what we’re dealing with in Hillel is well-intentioned professionals who want to be welcoming to all Jewish students,” said the guide’s editor, D’ror Chankin-Gould, in an interview with the Forward. “[Now we have] the resources to educate well-intentioned people in how to do better.” The guide, which was distributed to staff members at a Hillel conference and discussed at a workshop, includes chapters on coming out in Jewish communities, queer reinventions of Jewish rituals and the needs of transgender students. LGBTQ-identified Jewish students contributed testimonials.Our Jewish institutions – as a whole – are known for being slow to transform our values (that we ALL are created b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s image) into access and acceptance. There often is a gulf between our stated desire to be welcoming and the actions that make a community welcoming.

Our own Congregation Or Ami, having written a series of webpages under the title “No One is More Welcomed at Or Ami than You!” that express our values of welcoming and, as action to back it up, offer direct access by personal email to the rabbi as a reality check, will soon unveil our own webpage for LGBT Jews and Jewish couples and families. Overdue, yes. Significant, absolutely.

Mazel tov to Hillel for its work.

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