It's hard to believe that the summer is nearing the end! We're heading into the fall after a jam packed summer of educational and fun events. Building on the success of last year's Jewish and Israeli films at OUTFEST: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, all the Jewish organizations who were invited to be collaborators decided to step it up this year. The Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation along with Congregation Kol Ami, Beth Chayim Chadashim, and JQ International proudly presented five films and six events including a panel discussion on discrimination and peace activism, a wine tasting, mixers for men and women and a beautiful garden dinner party to celebrate the fabulous success of all the events. The events were all well attended and everyone had an enjoyable time. This was the first time all these organizations had worked together on a project of this size. The OUTFEST events came with the launch of a new website www.lgbtjewishla.org which will be a clearinghouse for events in the Los Angeles area.
I joined in on the faculty retreat with faculty from all three stateside HUC campuses and enjoyed coming together for learning and building for the future of HUC-JIR. This kind of event gives me the opportunity to network with faculty for future endeavors in the classroom. Shortly after returning I visited Dr. Bruce Phillip's Contemporary Issues class for the School of Jewish Communal Service and presented a lecture/discussion for the students on LGBT terminology, population incidence and practical implication for their work. Often intimate classroom work yields exponential success in familiarizing students with terms and concepts unavailable to them in the regular course syllabus.
Our most on-going activity right now is the LGBT Welcoming Synagogues Project in collaboration with Jewish Mosaic and Synagogue 3000. We have completed almost all of our qualitative interviews with congregations from all denominations in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and the Phoenix area. These interviews have been truly eye opening as to the current state of LGBT inclusion in our nation's congregations. These interviews will provide the basis for the nationally distributed quantitative survey to be distributed and collected this fall. This groundbreaking work has proven to be an interesting challenge but one that has brought many new relationships around the country. We look forward to the hard work paying off in congregations across the country and will keep you updated as our results are analyzed.
The big news of the summer was the announcement that the California Supreme Court's decision to uphold marriage for same gender couples. The IJSO has been active on this issue teaming up with California Faith for Equality for create a video of faith leaders who support marriage equality (Click to view). We have also been working with Jews For Marriage Equality to rally clergy to support this issue and fight the ballot initiative that we anticipate will be developed in response (Visit their site.). Meanwhile, we are going to celebrate marriage for all of us. Mazal Tov.