I am very excited that our NY campus' opening Kallah included two programs on sexual orientation and gender identity. It was a privilege to consult with the students working on those programs and then to hear how successful they were. The NY campus has now requested additional programs on inclusion and furthering exploration of transgender issues in text and modern application. The IJSO looks forward to working with the faculty and staff in NY to develop these new learning goals and programs.
Over the last several months, we have strongly felt the call of social justice to defeat California Proposition 8 which would repeal the recently given right for same-sex couples to get married in California. Working with a coalition of Jewish justice organizations, like Progressive Jewish Alliance and Jews for Marriage Equality, volunteers and paid staff, we have rallied the support of the majority of rabbis in the State to support marriage equality. (Visit JME's site.) It will be a close race and we will be active in it to the end.
The LGBT Welcoming Synagogues Project continues and we have been creating a unique database of every synagogue in the country across all denominations in anticipation of the launch of our quantitative survey of these congregations. It will be the first time ever that a survey of this magnitude has been attempted. We will keep you posted.
Looking forward to January, I am also eagerly anticipating another first for HUC-JIR. On the Cincinnati campus, we will be offering a 30 hour intersession course on LGBT issues in Judaism. Thanks to Rabbi Ken Kanter for making this happen. While this first pilot will be for that campus only, we hope to expand to the other campuses based on the model. If you have changing leaves in your time zone, enjoy them, otherwise, welcome to the new academic year.