Keshet, the nation’s largest organization working for LGBT inclusion in Jewish life, has been awarded a three-year grant for $540,000 from Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (JCF). The grant will support community-building, engagement and programming aimed at strengthening lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender participation (LGBT) in the Bay Area Jewish community.

Key among those priorities is the development of a broader array of programming and opportunities for engagement in Jewish life targeted to the very diverse community of Bay Area LGBT Jews. “This partnership with Keshet is a natural evolution of the work of the LGBT Alliance, and provides a stronger platform with greater resources for achieving our goals,” said Arthur Slepian, current lay chair of the Alliance. “This grant furthers the twin goals The Alliance has worked on since its inception in 1996: Creating a broader Jewish community that is more welcoming and inclusive of LGBT Jews while creating more specific opportunities for LGBT Jews to engage with Jewish life in ways that meaningfully incorporate their LGBT identities and families.”

The Bay Area has long been known as a mecca for the LGBT population, but is also home to one of the more diverse Jewish communities in the United States. According to the 2010 LGBT Alliance Study, there are an estimated 36,000 self-identified LGBT Jews in the greater Bay Area. And while research suggests that overt exclusion and homophobia are largely a thing of the past in most parts of the Bay Area’s Jewish community, there is still work to be done in order to ensure that LGBT Jews are welcomed and embraced throughout the Jewish community, particularly in those institutions that work to educate youth and introduce them to Jewish life.

With this new support, Keshet will substantially expand their presence in the Bay Area in the following ways:

  • Offer diverse social and cultural programs for Bay Area LGBT Jews by working in partnership with local LGBT Jewish, LGBT and Jewish organizations;
  • Provide professional development training, technical assistance and capacity-building support around LGBT inclusion to staff and community leaders at day schools, synagogues, youth movements, summer camps and other Jewish institutions in the Bay Area; and
  • Offer leadership development opportunities for LGBT Jews in the Bay Area.

Keshet will be housed at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, a Reform synagogue, the spiritual home for many LGBT Jews and straight allies in the Bay Area.